Provincial Reconstruction Team Helmand
The Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was established in September 2004. It was led by the US until 1 May 2006, when this responsibility was handed to the UK. HPRT ceased operations in LashKar Gah on 27 December 2013. With a core team of over 100 civilian and military staff it was once one of the largest PRTs in Afghanistan.
The PRT worked to deliver a provincial stabilisation and development plan that had been agreed between the Government of Afghanistan and international partners. The plan coordinated the efforts of 9 themes, or strands: Governance and Politics; Rule of Law; Counter-Narcotics; Population Engagement; Health; Education; Agriculture; Infrastructure and Private Sector Development. To deliver this Helmand PRT worked with the Government of Afghanistan, ISAF, and the ANSF.
The PRT has achieved its aim of building a strong platform for future governance and development in Helmand. HPRT will close before the end of 2014 in line with the timetable for PRT closures throughout Afghanistan set by President Karzai. HPRT’s focus has moved from stabilisation to transition. By the time of closure its work streams will be Afghan led. This is being achieved through the delivery of a single Helmand Plan that has been agreed between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners.
The Helmand PRT was headquartered in the province's capital, Lashkar Gah. It operated district field offices on military bases in Gereshk, Garmsir, Sangin, Nad-e Ali, Now Zad, Marjah, Khan-e shin and Musa Qalah. These offices are now closed.
Structure and Staffing
The Helmand PRT was part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and was located within Regional Command Southwest. HPRT was funded by the UK, USA, Danish and Estonian Governments. UK, US and Danish District Stabilisation Teams were located in 11 of Helmand’s 14 Districts. A Stabilisation Team typically comprised: civilian stabilisation advisers (STABADs); civilian specialists (e.g. in agriculture); a political adviser; and working with a UK Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST), a US Civil Affairs Team or a Danish CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation) Support Team. The teams brought together people with a range of backgrounds including development, politics, engineering and project management. Afghan members of the team played a vital role, bringing local knowledge and relationships. The Stabilisation Teams worked alongside the District Regimental Battle Group or Battalion Headquarters to coordinate civil and military activity.
In 2006, there were no effective mechanisms in place for Helmandis to hold the Afghan Government to account for the provision of local services. Ministries in Kabul delivered only a narrow range of services, with provincial directorates unable to access funds through Ministries in Kabul. Civil servants were confined to Lashkar Gah. District Governors were present in only four districts. Women in Helmand did not have any kind of political representation.
There are now 11 District Governors installed in Nawa, Nad Ali, Gereshk, Sangin, Musa Qala, Garmsir, Naw Zad, Khaneshin, Marjeh, Dishu and Kajaki (with a Mayor in place in Lashkar Gah).
With PRT support, eight District Community Councils have been established in Helmand to empower local representatives to determine the direction of development and security in their district. More than 40,000 Helmandis have voted in District Community Council elections since 2009.
PRT investment in Helmand’s neglected infrastructure network has improved links between economic centres, connected communities, and increased the Afghan Government’s reach across the province. The PRT has:
• Built or repaired 259 km of blacktop road. By 2014 a further 94 km will be complete – bringing the total to 353 km. • Laskhkar Gah’s back-up power capability has been increased by 3.5MW. • Completed over 60 repair projects across 5 primary canals.
Helmandis’ perception of improvements to road security, road conditions and access to water have grown year-on-year since 2010;
Growth and Livelihoods
Helmand’s economy is overwhelmingly agricultural, so PRT activities have centred on the value chains that make up around 90% of Helmand’s economic activity: wheat, meat, fruits and vegetables, and cotton.
By 2014 the PRT will have:
• Built District Agricultural Training Centres in Gereskh, Nawa and Marjah which will have trained 150,000 local farmers. • Established 20 farmer-producer groups. • Funded informal vocational skills training programmes across 9 districts, including carpentry, metalwork, IT, tractor maintenance and mobile phone technology. Over 19,000 young people, including around 5,000 females, will have graduated from these programmes. • Supported 42 small enterprises in central Helmand to develop and expand their businesses. • Supported the Helmand National Investors’ Association to generate self-sustaining revenue and become the Helmand Chapter of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. • Supported 4 self-sustaining Islamic Investment and Finance Cooperatives to make almost 4,000 loans worth $4.3m. • Improved market systems, linkages between farmers and vendors to improve quality and profitability, as well as building the capacity of the Department of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) to better support Helmand’s agricultural workers. • Supported the development of a wholesale market in Lashkar Gah. • Set up over 200 women in scavenger poultry businesses. • Established over 500 hectares of new orchards and vineyards. • Refurbished the Agricultural High School to enable 270 students from remote parts of Helmand to attend classes.
The PRT has worked closely with the Afghan Government to expand access to healthcare across Helmand. Almost 80% of the population now has access to healthcare within 10 km of their home.
The PRT has:
• Built or refurbished 12 healthcare facilities, including a Midwifery Training Centre, Kartelagan Comprehensive Health Clinic, Bost Basic Health Clinic and a Public Healthcare Training Centre. • Funded the training of community health workers and district health officials on service delivery, childhood illnesses and maternal health. • Funded midwifery training that has increased the number of community midwives from 29 in 2008 to 69 in 2012. • Donated 6 ambulances and 20 motorbikes to the Department of Public Health to improve access to healthcare. • Donated medical equipment and essential drug supplies to the maternity hospital and several health clinics.
The PRT has worked closely with the Afghan Government to increase access to primary and secondary education for girls and boys through a robust outreach campaign. Helmandi people’s satisfaction with education services has increased year-on-year since 2010.
The PRT has:
• Built or refurbished 89 schools. • Provided $2.4m over 3 years toward community-based education enabling the teaching of 2,400 students in 80 classes in Garmsir, Marjah and Nawa (over half female). • Provided $3m to fund the building of 6 dormitories to enable 2,000 students from remote districts to attend school. • Supported teacher training colleges in Lashkar Gah and Gereskh which currently have a total of 346 students enrolled, of which 229 are female. • Supported the training of 1,000 students in literacy and pedagogy. • Supported community outreach and social mobilisation activities to increase demand for quality education services.
In 2006 Helmand had no effective formal justice system. The PRT has facilitated the Afghan Government’s delivery of a sustainable, transparent, accessible and accountable statutory justice system to a critical mass of Helmand’s population. Access to statutory justice in Helmand is now greater than it has ever been.
• Since 2010, the statutory justice presence outside Lashkar Gah has grown from two justice officials in 2 of the 13 districts to 40 justice officials in 10 districts. Statutory justice officials (prosecutors, defence attorneys, judges, civil mediators, land officials, etc.) have received at a minimum quarterly training in topics such as land law, criminal law and procedure, fair trial standards, family law, constitutional law and human rights. • Since 2011, over 800 community elders drawn from every district in Helmand have been trained by Afghans in Afghan law, the constitution and human rights (particularly gender rights).
Through its mentoring and training, the joint Afghan/coalition policing effort has been instrumental in prompting improvements in professionalism and public perception of the police in Helmand. Increasingly the police are the main body responsible for providing security directly to the population, creating the space within which the justice sector can grow and connecting the Government to the people. The PRT has invested heavily in police infrastructure, by the time of PRT closure this will include:
• £1.4m on 11 x 15-man checkpoints. • £1.5m on 6 x 20-man patrol bases. • Construction of 120-man Bost police station due for completion mid-2013. • £2.2m on construction of the Lashkar Gah Police Training Centre due for completion August 2013. • £2.2m on 93 Orthodox Build Earthworks (5 of which are 100-man).
The PRT is focused on consolidating the gains made since 2006. As the PRT draws down the international community’s support will increasingly be delivered from Kabul, connecting to Helmand through Afghan government ministries. The key to ensuring that services provided by the government, such as education and health, will continue to improve in Helmand beyond 2014 is strengthening the relationship between the mother ministries in Kabul and their line departments in the province. The achievements in Helmand in sub-national governance are influencing the Afghan Government’s approach toward this issue. HPRT and DFID Afghanistan are working with donors and officials to ensure the lessons learned through delivering governance in Helmand are considered by Kabul policy makers at a national level. The gains made in Helmand’s delivery of the rule of law will be sustained through ensuring that the Afghan legal officials, who the PRT have trained, are capable and confident in passing on their skills. The PRT has backed a visible international development presence in the province, helping the Provincial Governor to encourage UN agencies to support progress in Helmand.
- Dahl Thruelson (2008). "Counter Insurgency and a Comprehensive Approach: Helmand Province, Afghanistan" (PDF). Small Wars Journal.
- UK DFID Press Release. "Helmand Governor turns opium poppy fields into food zones". Retrieved 2008-12-15.