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Rebuild Afghanistan Summit 2008 October 13, 2008

Posted by fpopal in Uncategorized.
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On Sunday, October 12th, Dominican University hosted the fifth annual Rebuild Afghanistan Summit in San Rafael. In addition to keynote speaker Dr. Nake Kamrany, professor of economics at USC and author of over 20 books and articles on Afghanistan, about 15 Bay Area organizations gave presentations on their work in Afghanistan and what they’re doing to provide some form of relief to the population. The Summit served as a forum for nonprofit leaders, academics, and concerned citizens to come together and talk about the successes and failures of the country, and what can be done at this time of need.

Dr. Nake Kamrany gave a thought-provoking presentation about what he believes to be the four most compelling problems that Afghanistan is facing today:

  • Security–US/NATO casualties have increased while security has decreased
  • Poppy production–poppy interdiction tactics have alienated the population
  • Economic development–per capita income growth must be 20% per year over the next 5 years and 10% thereafter for Afghanistan to reach level of its neighbors
  • Social and legal issues–weak governance and policy implementation failures must be addressed

During the Summit, a few key points came to my attention. First, the Bay Area organizations founded by Afghan-Americans and non Afghan-Americans are absolutely essential in building a link between the United States and the Afghan population. At a time when policy in Washington has been haphazard at best, it is these groups that are making the grassroots effort to better the lives of Afghans. Second, not enough pressure has been put on policymakers to truly put Afghanistan back on the policy agenda. As an Afghan-American, I wholeheartedly place part of that blame on myself. And third, the issue of human rights does not hold as prominent a place in the rhetoric of Afghanistan as it should. Yes, food and clothing and shelter are essential human needs, but that does not preclude a child’s right to an education, or a woman’s right to health care. It is the responsibility of the Afghan government, the United States, and the international donor community to ensure that government has the capacity to provide these services to its citizens.

– Farhat