Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Our room

Here are two views of our room from opposite corners and fairly typical of most of the housing on FOB Blessing. Most of the buildings are brick and mortar with a cement floor and no windows; we have heating / airconditioning / ventilation units called chigos that provide for our comfort. Our building has about 6 rooms like this on the north side and 8 similar rooms on the south - some with bunk beds, others like this. Ours is the only civilian room in the complex, the rest being occupied by soldiers. Then there are two more buildings just like this next to ours. On the grand scheme of things in Afghanistan this is pretty good housing; discussions with others reveal tents, b- huts, and even hesko - houses are in use and are vastly inferior.

Even have Yankees fans over here

Recently installed on the outside of the command building.

Hot enough for ya?

Veterinary Meeting in Kabul

In late June I attended a veterinary working group in Kabul convened to address veterinary institutions in Afghanistan. Their ministries have now officially "privatized" the veterinary profession, meaning that most veterinarians, similar to those in the US, will make their living from fee for service; they will also begin a "public - private partnership" similar to what the US does for national animal disease control programs. They also plan to incorporate the veterinary profession in the slaughter and meat inspection process, a sensible idea since most of the meat harvesting occurs in small "locker" plants and the need for an entire bureaucracy for large scale meat production is not needed in this country yet. Afghanistan has two veterinary colleges, one in Kabul and one in Nangahar, and there are efforts underway to upgrade their equipment and facilities. Afghanistan also has an active veterinary association. Continuing challenges for the profession include quality / authenticity control for pharmaceuticals, cold chain management (i.e., medications / vaccines that are supposed to be stored under refrigeration stay under refrigeration during storage, transportation, distribution and use), as well as lack of electricity and laboratory support. During this meeting we broke into working groups and I hope to use my professional experience as both a private, APHIS accredited DVM and a federally employed veterinarian to positively influence the development of veterinary policy.

V 16 power

This old engine block from a V - 16 engine caught my eye at the embassy; I'm assuming it came from a diesel electrical generator?

non lethal

Pcitures from a recent meeting in the district center with our commander, Sherbadir (district subgovernor) and our non - lethal team. Captain Lumen holds the flower and is the person who coordinates the development funding and information arms of the army. Specialist Alex Koletas and LT Steve Hunnewell from two of the civil affairs team and we work together daily on governance and development. Sherbadir is standing next to Steve and Alex. We were invited to stay for lunch (YUMMY!) and enjoyed stewed lamb and goat, potatoes, rice, bread, bananas and stewed okra. Both LTC Ryan and I foundered on the okra - its way better the way the Afghans prepared it than when fried as is more typical in the US.

Bazaar beautification

A recent beautification project complete by the district forestry manager Haji Hakim (under umbrella). Over 400 of these trees were planted in the bazaar and the district government center.


A watershed and tree planting project in an erodable area. Afghanistans watershed have been devastated by years of over harvesting trees and over grazing, leading to increased run off and flooding. Afghanistan has ambitious plans to re - develop their watersheds and irrigation infrastructure, a labor intense and worthy plan.


Orchard training, planting and growth - carried out by the district agriculture staff.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Wiring - up to code?

Electricity is a scarce commodity here and line splices by the Afghans are commonplace. Here's an example of up to code wiring we have in the district center. All our electric power on the base comes from diesel powered generators. We got a new generator on the base - we had a series of power failures a few weeks ago, sometimes for hours out of the day. LTC Ryan was grateful for the generator but questioned the tennis ball color. (Not like we had a choice!)