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NRCS Around the World: Overcoming Obstacles in Afghanistan

This is part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 here. Stay tuned for Part 3 later in the week.

To try to make contact with the pump manufacturer in Pakistan, I went back to Sandy, who suggested that I e-mail my questions to him. He would print my e-mail and fax it to the man in Pakistan, who would get his brother-in-law to translate it and fax back the answers, which Sandy would then put in an e-mail back to me.

In this way, over the course of several weeks, I gathered information about pumping capacities, tower heights, cost, etc. As I was digesting this information and trying to organize it into a project funding proposal, I wondered how in the world I would get these things constructed. I had already visited several villages where a windmill pump was a viable option, and knew there were many more potential sites out there that I had not yet seen. The concept was ripe for Afghanistan.

Of course, we could not make frequent or regular visits to any village because of the threat of insurgents placing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along our route. So we had to make infrequent, unannounced visits, altering our route each time.

For the most part, villagers and farmers were very receptive to our presence. However, when I tried to explain the concept of a windmill pump I typically got blank stares and laughs. What seemed to me and the American soldiers I served with as “old cowboy technology” was something very strange to the Afghans. Their skepticism galvanized me.

Once I finally thought I understood what parts were necessary to build the windmill pumps to irrigate dry Afghan land and how to get them, I still needed an installation plan. I had met an American contractor from West Texas at Kandahar Airfield. This man had large construction contracts with the U.S. military for things like Afghan National Army barracks. So I went out to his compound and talked with him awhile, eventually asking him if, by some strange chance, he had ever built a windmill pump. He laughed and replied, “Yeah, probably two hundred or so.”

The windmill pump was a small project for the Texan. But he had a love of agriculture and believed the windmill would prove effective for Afghans, so he agreed to place the order to the man in Pakistan, receive the windmills upon their arrival and install them. Now I had a plan in place.

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NRCS employee Jeff Sanders meets with a village elder of the Deh Yahke in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

NRCS employee Jeff Sanders meets with a village elder of the Deh Yahke in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

One Response to “NRCS Around the World: Overcoming Obstacles in Afghanistan”

  1. Najibullah says:

    To NRCS,

    Atually i am coming from the village where you took the picture with the villager, but i don’t see the windmill anymore and of course it is a good idea in afghanistan to have the windmill. I don’t know if you are still intersted doing such projects? i mean it is quite good!

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