It has once again been far too long since my last update. I do, however, have some news to share with you, though most of it is bad.
First, the well we worked so hard to dig for the people of Ahmadabad village is not functioning properly. Despite my very best attempts at finding the highest quality materials and taking advantage of the best local technical guidance throughout the process, it seems that there is a problem with the casings and piping, resulting in the influx of sand that is blocking water from being pumped upward.
I have a former colleague of mine in Maimana who is a highly capable engineer looking into the issue with some of his staff. He and his staff have tried their best to find time to investigate, but with his extremely demanding schedule, and particularly with the growing threat of Taliban in the area, a road trip to Ahmadabad village is not possible for the time being.
This is the second piece of bad news: The Taliban are taking control of the districts surrounding Maimana, including the Qata Qala area. I have several reports from colleagues and friends in Faryab and Balkh that the mainly Pashtun Taliban are expanding their membership in the north through recruiting young Uzbek men by offering them up to US$300 per month. This means that travel is severely restricted in these areas, particularly for staff of international organizations, which all of my colleagues and assistants are.
Rest assured, however, that this is an important matter to me. I am doing all I can to have this well attended to and ensure that the time, effort and funds that we all poured into this do indeed bear the fruit of safe and adequate access to water in Ahmadabad. The increase in Taliban activity in this area is very bad news and will severely limit my ability to travel to Maimana to oversee any work. I am very much aware of the weight of responsibility I bear in ensuring your donated funds continue to be used in an accountable and sustainable manner--I will have to do what I can from London, drawing on my social and professional networks in Faryab to get the work done.
And finally, the flood I mentioned in my previous post: It took some time, but I managed to get some photographs of the damage to the Qata Qala area surrounding Ahmadabad village. Some were taken from a helicopter that surveyed the damage shortly after the worst of the rainfall. Others were taken along the road after the waters receded slightly. Many thanks to Kanishka for capturing these scenes and taking the time to send them to me.
I am working on learning the extent of the damage to Ahmadabad village, but I have heard from Kanishka that the relief effort for the flood victims has been underway for some weeks. I hope to have an update for you soon.
I leave you for now with these scenes from the first days of the flood. I will hopefully be able to provide you with another update soon, and, inshah allah, with better news.