Provincial Reconstruction Team Helmand
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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. With a core team of over 100 civilian and military staff it is one of the largest PRTs in Afghanistan.
The PRT works to deliver a provincial stabilisation and development plan that has been agreed between the Government of Afghanistan and international partners.
The plan is structured around seven themes:
Structure and Staffing
Headed by British diplomat Catriona Laing it has over 100 civilian and military core staff, mainly from the UK, Afghanistan, Denmark, Estonia and the US. It is funded by the UK, USA, Danish and Estonian Governments. The US Senior Civilian Representative in RC(SW) is US diplomat Paul Reid, who also heads the US Regional Platform. The Danish Senior Civilian Representative in RC(SW)is Danish diplomat Casper Klynge.
The Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand coordinates international stabilisation and development work across Helmand, working with the Government of Afghanistan, the ISAF elements in the Province partnered with their Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF) counterparts and international donors. Through the PRT in Helmand, we are working to deliver a single Helmand Plan that has been agreed between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners. The plan is structured around several themes: Politics and Reconciliation; Governance; Rule of Law (Justice, Police and Prisons); Security; Economic and Social Development; Counter Narcotics; and Strategic Communications. The PRT has specialists in each of these themes, supporting the government in Helmand with advice and projects.
The PRT helps the Afghan Government deliver effective governance and security throughout Helmand Province. The PRT coordinates international stabilisation and development work across Helmand, working with the Government of Afghanistan, the ISAF elements in the Province partnered with their ANSF counterparts – Task Force Helmand (UK, Denmark, Estonia) and the Task Force Leatherneck of the United States Marine Corps (US) – and international donors.
The PRT is headquartered in Lashkar Gah, with UK, US and Danish District Stabilisation Teams in 10 of Helmand’s 14 Districts. A Stabilisation Team typically comprises: civilian stabilisation advisers (STABADs); civilian specialists (e.g.. in agriculture); a political adviser; and either a UK Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST), a US Civil Affairs Team or a Danish CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation) Support Team. The teams bring together people with a range of backgrounds including development, politics, engineering and project management. The Stabilisation Team work alongside the District Regimental Battle Group or Battalion Headquarters to coordinate civil and military activity.
At the end of 2008 there were only District Governors in place in 5 of Helmand’s 14 districts - there are now 12 District Governors installed in: Nawa; Nad Ali; Gereshk; Sangin; Musa Q’ala; Garmsir; Naw Zad; Khaneshin; Marjeh; Dishu; and Kajaki (with a Mayor in place in Lashkar Gah). With PRT support, four Community Councils have been established in Helmand to empower local representatives to determine the direction of development and security in their district. Five members of the Gereshk Community Council are female.
There are now 110 schools open in Helmand (an increase from 47 in December 2007). Pupil enrolment is steadily rising in Helmand – the latest figures (in August 2010) show total enrolment of 79,053 pupils (60,166 male and 18,887 female). This represents an increase of 54% since December 2007. Female enrolment is estimated to have increased by 34% during this period. The Helmand literacy rate for those aged 15 years or over is 20% for men and 1% for women (compared to the national rates of 32% and 13% respectively).
With UK support, Lashkar Gah airport opened in June 2009 with over 30 commercial flights landing a month, and over 80 km of roads have been resurfaced in the province. Over the next three years, the DFID-funded £28 million Helmand Growth Programme will help to remove barriers to economic growth by improving: roads and market access; electricity supplies; access to credit; and providing vocational training and business support to local farmers and small businesses.
In 2006 the capital of Helmand, Lashkar Gah, was a ramshackle collection of broken buildings, with a crumbling physical infrastructure and a devastated economy. Now an increasingly capable Provincial Government under Governor Mangal, with the support of the international community, has created security in Lashkar Gah, and it is mostly Afghan led. This has meant a functioning police force and army, including a capable counter-narcotics police force. It also includes an airport connecting Helmand with the rest of Afghanistan, a decent electricity and water infrastructure, an excellent road network, a court, a prison, thriving refurbished bazaars, schools, a hospital, agricultural college and civil service training centre.
The Helmand PRT is head-quartered in the province's capital, Lashkar Gah. It has district offices in Gereshk, Garmsir, Sangin, Nad-e Ali, Now Zad, Marjah, Khan-e shin and Musa Qalah.
The Helmand PRT programme budget for the UK financial year 2007-08 is £29m.
Helmand Food Zones
The PRT's largest programme, in terms of financial commitment, is its support to Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal's Food Zones. In November and December 2008, the Food Zone programme provided 32,000 farmers in Helmand with 3,200 tonnes of wheat seed, plus fertilizer and technical assistance. This is intended to boost wheat production ahead of what is expected to be tough winter of food shortages in Afghanistan.
Governor Mangal has also used the scheme to tackle the province's narcotics industry, by securing the written agreement of every farmer who received the wheat seed not to grow opium poppy. To back up this agreement, the government will target poppy eradication at those farming communities that signed up to the Food Zone plan.
- 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.