In March of 2001, with the Taliban still in control of the country, Afghanistan was a place where fear reigned. Transportation for most of the population was by donkey or on foot – motor vehicles didn’t exist except for top Taliban officials and key military personnel. Food was scarce in the aftermath of seven years of country-wide drought. Women seldom ventured outside their homes, unless totally wrapped in the ubiquitous burqa and accompanied by a close male relative. Girls were forbidden to attend school. Almost four million Afghans had fled their country to seek refuge in Pakistan and Iran – many others remained in Afghanistan in large refugee camps for the internally displaced. Few children were to be seen.
Six years later, a lot has changed. While there is still ongoing conflict in the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan, paved roads now connect the four key cities of Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazir. In these cities signs of progress are clearly visible – schools, clinics and markets exist where previously there were only shelled ruins. Motorized traffic has increased 100-fold. Streets are clogged; pollution is omnipresent.
|Even in remote villages the roof of each little mud-brick hut now sports a solar panel....Wind-power and small hydro-electric dams are being utilized to increase the battery-stored electric power. And its uses are many: power-generated lamps, hot water for tea, and the basic dish of yogurt made in a hygienic aluminum pot.|
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