Written by Spc. Michael Vanpool
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Balkh Province, Afghanistan – Clean water is hard to come by in Afghanistan. Walking around any forward operating base, a soldier will pass several water points, each stacked with cases of bottle water.
That’s not the case for the villages of Afghanistan. The Commander’s Emergency Response Program team for the 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion decided to tackle the issue by starting a project in the Dehdadi District to build water wells for several villages.
“The villages there are in dire need of a clean water source,” said Capt. Sherman Pinckney, the officer in charge of the 530th CERP team. “They (villagers) have to walk to other areas to get water in buckets or bottles and bring them home.”
An unusually dry winter throughout Afghanistan has left several villages short on water that runs off from the mountains every spring and summer.
“Usually it snows a lot, but this year there wasn’t that much snow, so there’s a drought this summer,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Brown, the CERP team noncommissioned officer in charge.
Currently, there are no wells in the villages. Once the projects are completed, six shallow wells will be in place in different villages throughout the district.
The CERP team conducted a shura with the locals leaders to discuss what the villages needed. During the meeting, all the elders agreed that wells where the most important assistance they needed, Brown said.
The well construction started this week, and after 45-days of construction, they will be up and running. The project provided jobs to around 50 local Afghans to build the wells, Pinckney said.
The CERP team visits the sites weekly to make sure the construction is on schedule, and that these wells will be ready for the locals.
“Number one, they will have a water source,” Pinckney said. Quality is also a big factor is the wells. The water source will be around for a while and will provide clean water to prevent diseases, he said.
Before the CERP team starts a project, they meet with the village elders to hear what they need in their villages. With the insufferable summer heat taking over Afghanistan, the need for water was their main priority.
“The village elders are excited because it helps their villages,” Pinckney said. “When we spoke with the village elders, they were very appreciative of us.”
As the CERP team was doing the site assessments over the past month, some of the locals came and started to thank the team even before anything had been done.
“Once they saw the 530th MRAPs and MATVs, they knew something good was about to happen,” Pinckney said.
The wells are slated to be completed in about a month. In the mean time, the CERP team is working on another project.
“The next project is a high school, which will provide them with a better school, completely renovated,” Pinckney said.
During a series of projects for the school, the team plans to supply the students and teachers with desks, to refurbish the library, and to build a perimeter wall. Also an outside area will be built with a gazebo and volleyball court.