afghan-playground-schoolkids-unama.jpgSheikh Misri was once known as a dreary and rough desert of barren land littered with landmines and unexploded ordinances.

Now, after four years of relentless synchronized efforts by the UN, the Government of Afghanistan, international aid agencies and individuals, life there is thriving.

“This otherwise lifeless desert is now home to about 2,500 families…” There is bus service, a school, a clinic, a newly constructed road from the nearest highway and a 20-bed hospital, which has almost been completed.

Welcome to Sheikh Misri New Township (SMNT)

SMNT is one of the five pilot locations being developed as a land allocation site for landless returnees who spent years outside their country as refugees, and for internally displaced persons, in accordance with Presidential Decree Number 104.

“We are happy about all that has been done here,” said Abdul Rahim, the head of the local Shura or elders, recalling that there was “nothing when we came here.”

Back in the township area, a number of livelihood programs are underway.

UNHCR has supported cow raising, animal feed production and tractor projects, among others. In 2009, the refugee agency also supported 100 households with a kitchen- garden project, 30 others with poultry farming, and additional 36 families with supplementary cow-feeding and refresher training.

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