Friday, April 09, 2010

USAID Field Reports of Helmand Valley 1950-2010

The Helmand Valley is a major region in southern Afghanistan. The valley is important because within it is the Helmand River. The river serves as the life source for Helmand province and parts of Uruzgan, Kandahar, and Nimroz provinces. Besides water for people the river also is the main source of water for agriculture including poppy production. Because of the presence of drugs, agriculture, and people in the valley around the river the valley is an important battleground in the War in Afghanistan.

The valley, along with much of southern Afghanistan, has been the site of many American-led development projects during the Cold War and post 9/11-era. These projects have mostly been managed by USAID.

USAID's reports from the various decades create a historical geography of Afghanistan. These reports can be fun to read when one reads them for the historic geographic picture they paint. Fortunately, Richard Scott, a former USAID official who was in Helmand during the 1970s, has a large collection of original documents from USAID's efforts dating from the 1950s to the present. The website has economics of agriculture production, surveys of land and people, opium production information, and so much more.

If one is interested in learning about an area of Afghanistan where much of the action is then these field reports can give important background information for one to better understand the present situation.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally I found you to help verify the presence of economic assistance from the US to Afghanistan prior to 1978. The current production of "Blood and Gifts" at Lincoln Center about the CIA, ISI, Soviet operatives as a program note stating that assistance was requested but no assistance was given.

Jill Vickers Returned PCV Afghanistan

Jill Vickers said...

Current production of the play "Blood and Gifts" at Lincoln Center, New York, has a program note stating that while Afghanistan requested aid from the US prior to 1978, none was given. Having been there as a Peace Corps volunteer who met several USAID workers, I knew this to be untrue. Thanks for this verification.