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Section B: Domains and Essential Services

Page history last edited by Aiki Labs 14 years, 8 months ago

Section A: General Overview


B. Domains and Essential Services


1.      Agriculture/Food:

a.     General.  The hypothesis is that the Afghans might value the following sorts of services related to agriculture and food: 

  • Cool/cold storage and on-site processing of agricultural products to reduce crop spoilage;
  • Lowered cooking fuel use by solar/combustion integration;
  • Information about market prices, transportation routes and weather forecasts via cell phone, as well as info on how to make farmers smarter (potentially better crops, etc); 
  • Precision information on soil moisture and crop health via high resolution imagery of fields from low-cost, non-ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) imagery such as unmanned air vehicles (see also section C3 on geospatial information sharing); 
  • Micro-credit or cash transactions
  • Power and information related to irrigation 


b.  Cool/cold storage and on-site processing of agricultural products to reduce crop spoilage and lowered cooking fuel use by solar/combustion integration;

1.      General:   Onsite storage of agricultural products, whether in cold storage or less energy- intensive storage such as root cellars, could reduce spoilage and even allow for some goods to be sold after peak growing seasons when prices are likely to be higher.  Minister Zia of MRRD expressed an interest in this in March 2009 at Aspen. He reportedly was principally interested in refrigeration units rather than solar units. Such units also would have to consider the cost of fuel and who would perform maintenance on the refridgeration plants. 


     Solar food processors (typically for drying agricultural products quickly) provide an alternative approach.  See, for example:  Pat McArdle report on Solar Food Processing in Afghanistan 09-3.doc.   Pat McArdle also contacted Afghan Engineer Sabur Achtari, who runs the Afghan Solar Bedmoschk Center in Wardak Province.  His center offers a complete training package in solar food drying, which they  conducted with PRT Logar and PRT Parwan last year.  Eng. Achtari has provided the following proposal for training, which includes the provision of solar driers:   Kalkulation-Jalalabd 09-3 Engr Archtari.xls  and Soladryer for Farmer in Jalalabad, Engr Achtari 09-3.doc


     See also the section on solar-based food processing on pp. 32-33 of Distributed Infrastructure in Afghan 2-21-09_1.doc


     Barriers:  Solar food processing approaches face many of the same cultural barriers as solar cooking (see below), but without the direct involvement of so many individual family members.  They might be an easier

2.      Jalalabad.  Engr Archtari's proposal (see link above) is $6310.50 for 20 driers, 2 trainers, movement of personnel and equipment to J-bad, etc.

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs


c.      Solar/Integrated Cooking

1.      General:  Pat McArdle is a retired Foreign Service Officer who has served in Afghanistan and who has spent many years working with solar and integrated solar/high efficiency combustion cooking.  In March 2009 she filed a report that begins: 

     "I have consulted with several experienced solar cooker colleagues (list at the end of this message) regarding the widespread introduction of solar cookers into Afghanistan (which has an average of 300 solar cooking days/year).  They expressed a general consensus that parabolic solar cookers would be the most appropriate of the three types of solar cookers to introduce at this time. The ability of parabolic cookers to generate high temperatures very quickly even at high altitudes and in very cold weather (as long as there is sunshine) all point to this as the solar cooker technology that will most readily be adopted.   The National Solidarity Program could be a useful vehicle for introducing solar cookers into villages.     



 For a quick impact project it will be necessary to import the solar cookers.  For longer term stability and job creation local craftsmen should be taught how to manufacture the cookers for sale. Initially, large numbers could be imported from China or India (see below).  A very quick impact project might be to introduce them first to the village tea shops where they could be used to boil water in a very public place.  Male and female villagers would see them in use and would notice how much less wood is being burned by the owners of the chai hanas.  Parabolic solar cookers can also be used for ironing clothes. The irons used in areas where there is no electricity are just that, pieces of iron with a flat bottom, a handle and a place to put hot coals.  In India, laundry workers are heating their irons on parabolic cookers and saving a bundle on charcoal.   



                              The full report can be found at: Pat McArdle report on solar cooking in Afghanistan, 09-3.doc



      A related set of e-mail threads amplifies many of these points:  Gmail - Re Solar cooking and solar water pasteurization in Pakistan - linwells@gmail.com.htm


     In a separate e-mail, Pat wrote: "contacted my solar cooker colleagues in Afghanistan regarding your request for information.  Michael Mueller ( in Bamiyan) and Grace Magney (in Kabul) of Global Hope Network have submitted a proposal to PRT Zabul for a project to teach people to construct parabolic solar cookers that can be used in family compounds for cooking or in tea shops to keep a kettle of water boiling all day long with solar power.  Their proposal, which they are willing to duplicate for Nangarhar Province is below.   SOW for 50 Solar Cookers in Zabul 09-2.doc  [The cost, including training and things like sunglasses, is $3439 for 50 units ($68.78 each).  The main consumable seems to be tape, which would need to be replaced every 1-2 years.]   Do you have any idea of the number of solar cookers that would be required?  Grace Magney is also contacting an Afghan carpenter who has built a Devos solar cooker.  This is an easy to construct, portable parabolic solar cooker (made of wood, sheet metal, steel tubing and small mirrors) that includes a work table and would be ideal for Kabob Shops or large families.  This man might be willing to train other Afghans to make their own Devos solar cookers."


A separate report (Chinese Solar Cooking 09_Tingcun.pdf) addressed the growing success that Chinese have had with solar cooking.  To which Vinay Gupta commented on 090303:  "Pat, what's the story with the Chinese Butterfly. We hear figures like 2 million units in use in China - how's that happening? Free market? Govt. mass production? How does that compare with the SK14?  If it's got to 2m units free market, that would seem to indicate that people like using it a lot more than the other designs I'm familiar with, and that would seem to make it a logical choice for Afghanistan."


     http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Sun_Fire_Cooking provides information and Somali experience with the Chinese Butterfly solar cooker.


     Finally, see the section on Integrated Cooking and Solar Food Processing from pp. 27-24 of:  Distributed Infrastructure in Afghan 2-21-09_1.doc


     Barriers:  Despite its demonstrated performance in many situations and many potential benefits (such as avoiding further deforestation in Afghanistan), solar cooking faces significant resistance from personnel from many aid and development agencies.  For example: 




I just want to put in a word of caution.  There are very few, if any, successful solar cooker programs that I can think of anywhere.  Yes, they can heat water very well, but the social barriers to their use is significant.  They simply do not cook what people want, in a manner that they want to cook it.  It is not a technical problem, it is a social issue.  I know there are many advocates for this kind of technology, but approach it with eyes wide open as it is not new, and has a long track record of projects that don't achieve what they were intended to.  We can’t decouple technology and social/cultural behaviours.  I know you know this, but not all technology advocates understand this......  For example, solar cookers might reduce firewood consumption, but the women might like collecting wood as it is the only time they are allowed out of the house...  There are many, many implications of introducing technology into these cultures...

I'm certainly not wanting to sand-bag anything.  I just wanted to flag to the group that it is not as simple as putting a few university designed units out there.  It’s time to find some new mistakes to make!  Yes, I can completely understand that situations like refugee camps can see a higher likelihood of success with solar cookers, as the options are often pretty dire.  There may also be a higher chance of success in locations around Afghanistan as environmental degradation forces changes in cultural practices.  I would love to see solar cookers work out as there is no doubt that the use of firewood is hard to sustain, but someone needed to note that this is not new.  My team of engineers here in Kabul tried unsuccessfully to introduce solar cookers under a German initiative a few years ago and essentially got nowhere.  It was great to boil the kettle at the office though.   In any case, if an approach to solar cookers can be worked out such that the needs of the consumer (technical, cultural and social) are accommodated, and the reasons for the other past failures are thoroughly understood, then sure, maybe this one will work out better.


The net of the above suggests that solar-based approaches can offer significant capabilities, but they should include significant social and cultural elements as well as technical.  They also may be particularly well suited for refugee/IDP camps.   Recommend planners contact Pat McArdle (solarwind1@mac.com), who has many inputs and contacts.  Tony Woods (twoods@sesa.af) also should be contacted.


     The need to provide cooking solutions when the sun isn't shining is addressed through the kinds of integrated solar/high efficiency combustion cooking that have been demonstrated in STAR-TIDES activities (www.star-tides.net) and USSOUTHCOM's Crisis Management Experiment IV in July 2009 and elsewhere (http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Integrated_Cooking_Method).


2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs


d.       Information about market prices, transportation routes and weather forecasts via cell phone (coverage now reaches 85% of the population);

1.      General:  See Aaron Rose work in Peru on providing agricultural info to farmers over cell phones, and Roshan's new network.

Barriers:  Illiteracy

2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs 


e.      Precision information on soil moisture and crop health via high resolution imagery of fields from low-cost, non-ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) imagery

1.      General:  At least one observer felt that this would a few bridges too far, at least for the remote villages.  As he put it, grapes are rotting on the ground because there's no wood for grape arbors.  As a result, people are looking for wire for arbors.  So UAVs at this stage are much more than what's needed.


      On the other hand, if actions  could be taken relatively easily to improve agricultural incomes through beter information, shouldn't they be tried?  The August field experiments at Camp Roberts, CA showed the potential to link rapid situational awareness through SMS-texting and related tools to geospatial products such as maps and images.  Even if precision imagery isn't available, GIS products from less precises UAVs might still be useful.


     Another wrote:  Based on Philippine experience, It would appear prior to implementing Situational Awareness innovations for civilian purposes we would need to be building a capacity for the community to build their own educational resources about the innovations and the application of them through Project Based Learning in the schools. 

     Barriers:  very low baseline, at least in remote villages.   techical, cultural, operational, OPSEC, etc.  But see results from Camp Roberts

2.      Around Jalalabad

a.       The elements in any location include:

o       A small, unmanned aerial system (UAS)

o       A processing station to integrate information from the UAS (or other sources) and turn it into Geospatial Information System (GIS) products of use to local

o       A rapidly installable network to display the information

o       A

3.      Around each of four district  capitals

4.      This is not expected to be expendable  initially to remote villages

5.      To monitor developments around a camp for refugees or IDPs


               f.    Micro-credit or cash transactions


1.      General

2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs 


                          g.  Power and information related to irrigation


1.      General

2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs 



2.      Clean Water:  purification systems tailored to local conditions.  Needs could range from treatment with tablets to simple filtration to reverse osmosis units.

a.       General.  David Luft e-mail on wind-driven pumps, AKVO, WHIX, LIFE

b.      Jalalabad

c.       Each of four district  capitals

d.      Each of 25 villages

e.       Camp for refugees or IDPs


3.      Public Health: 

a.      General:  Wide range of opportunities here.  Doctors largely around Kabul.   Could bring literally life-changing services to remotre areas.  Doesn't have to be wide bandwidth--scale services to what's available. 

     Barriers:  literacy, culture/gender


b.    Cell phone-based services for pre-natal and maternal care, using both text messages and, for those who can’t read or write,

1.      General.  Reference, Ron Poropatich.  Barriers

2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Each of 25 villages

5.      Camp for refugees or IDPs


c.      Hub and Spoke Telemedicine System (incremental benefit potential - the InternetBar Group can add an online justice system application to the Hub and Spoke Telemedicine System for a small incremental cost increasing the benefits and services which will be available at the beginning of the test period.)  Reference Kim Guevara (kim@medweb.com) and Pete Killcommons (pete@medweb.com)


     1.      The estimates below include: lighting, communications, air conditioners, satellite, and                    limited telemedicine equipment (but not radiology equipment)

2.      In addition, the hub in Jalalabad has twice the solar power compared to the spoke to spoke.

3.      The spoke refer to district sites at the capitol and the refugee camp        since the power is at best a few hours a day at the rural clinics, and probably 70% of the time at the hub site, we elected to include the solar option to provide sustainable solutions for the clinics and rural areas.

4.      A budget from the cellphone SMS text message service, as described in paragraph A3a, can be added for about $35,000.

5.      Provision has been included to train numerous Afghan medical students on the telemedicine equipment, and to fund them for part time jobs providing clinical and technical telemedicine support to the clinics.  Budgets are based on 1 medical student for every 5 clinics.

6.      The model used for this was based on a visit to Nangarhar University medical school , and the real world experience communicated to us from members of San Diego-based  La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary, Jalalabad Fab lab, and Synergy Strike Force in developing relationships with the medical school over the last several years.




Facility Cost

Maintenance Costs per year

Total 10 yr Cost


Jalalabad (Hub)




Does not include Shipg or Customs

4 dist capitals




Does not include Shipg or Customs

IDP camp




Does not include Shipg or Customs





Does not include Shipg or Customs


4.      Lighting:  basic household lighting (a light in every kitchen), plus community lights.

a.       General:  Lighting runs the gamut from village-wide systems run off central power plants to decentralized systems based on portable lights (typically light-emitting diode--LED or cool cathode fluorescent--CCF) with their own solar panels, or rechargeable batteries.  Benefits include: 

1.      Overall quality of life:  As a prominent Afghani said, “The most transformational thing one could do in Afghanistan is to put a light bulb in every kitchen.  Not only does it promote education, but it also empowers women and extends the day.

2.      Education:  Since many children work to provide subsistence during the day, this opens the opportunity for evening learning.

3.      Safety and security:  City and village streets are much safer.

4.      Economics:  lighting allows for cottage industries and small businesses to operate after sunset.  Kerosene for illumination is an expensive and reoccurring expense, taking as much as 30% to 50% of disposable income.  

5.      Health: An estimated 1.6 million people worldwide die each year from bio-mass and kerosene inhalation which causes cancer.  Many thousands more are injured or killed in kerosene fires. 

6.      Environment:   A kerosene lantern can emit up to 100 kilos of carbon annually, and green tree limbs and shrubs are cut to build fires for illumination, contributing to deforestation.  


References:  Mark Bent, Bob Freling, Tony Woods

b.      The figures below are from one company’s proposal for stand-alone, solar-powered lights suitable for room lighting and spot beams. 

1.      The cost per light ranges from $18 to $23 each, with the more expensive one also being able to charge cell phones. 

2.      The lights are built in China, and production can be scaled rapidly.

3.      LED lights made by Nichia of Japan work better in than most LEDs under Afghan conditions (there can be as little as 4 hours of light in the Afghan winter). 

4.      Rechargeable AA NiMH batteries cost about $.39 each for 800 MaH (each flashlight has 3), can be recharged 500-750 times (about 1.5-to-2 years) before they need replacement, and have much less environmental impact than NiCads.   Hence the average annual cost per flashlight is $1.08/2 = $.54/year.

5.      In 2008, the sea freight shipping charge from Ningbo, China to Karachi, Pakistan, was quoted at $700 for 2,500 lights for the 22-day voyage.  The figures below assume one light per family, a price ladder for each segment of $1,000 per 5000, and $1,500 per 10,000 and that the land shipping charges between Karachi and Jalalabad would be the same as for the sea portion, thus doubling the shipping cost. 





Acquisition Cost

Shipping (sea + land)


Total Cost for period of ten years (with battery replacements)







4 dist capitals






25 villages






IDP camp













6.      Beyond the factor of race, there is a question of packaging the lighting so the women can retain access.  In Africa, coloring the women’s lights pink was sufficient to keep the men from stealing them.  However, as one producer noted:  “We sent 1,000 pink to Afghanistan in late 2007, just for women.  They were well received, but we got only a limited amount of feedback.  My only concern would be the Taliban retribution - if we are educating girls?  I will defer to people with more recent experience in Afghanistan.  In Africa, they work well - but in Africa, they do not kill their own people (women) if they want to become educated.”


7.      Local production is another issue.  Again, as a corporate officer said: I am for this - but there is no economic reason from our end to do this - it costs very little for the labor to put these together - the biggest cost is of course the components.  I would be amenable to discuss this - sending in basically a kit - if someone is willing to fund the local production.

5.      Education

a.      General.  Barriers


b.  Innovative ideas and extension of internet services to universities and teaching hospitals.

1.      Jalalabad: 

a.       Information Sharing:  Jalalabad has a number of  innovative projects that are being sustained on shoe-string budgets. The Fab Lab in Jalalabad (http://blog.fablab.af/?m=200906) is now being supported by scrimping, saving, and private donations -- A number of individuals are looking for ways to get some of the infrastructure and support funded. FabFi is an open-source, FabLab-grown system using common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles. With FabFi, communities can build their own wireless networks to gain high-speed internet connectivity---thus enabling them to access online educational, medical, and other resources. For reference you may wish to read a previous report on Dr. Wells on Information sharing opportunities in Nangarhar: http://www.star-tides.net/node/380    

b.    San Diego-Jalalabad Sister Cities Foundation.   

c.    SILK+ and MIST (and others?)

d.       Light Up Jalalabd

e.      If you have a chance to tour Chantilly Academy that was set up by John Wittmann you can see demonstrated unique Project Based Learning classrooms that cover all communications basics up to the technical side.  John Wittmann is available to support his having set up Teacher education programs about this methodology.  The PBL Model would be wrapped around things like the FAB Lab from MIT.

f. The InternetBar group has developed online training to set up e-commerce based businesses. With some development, they can be delivered over cellphones and over OLPC platforms;  this past July, IBO met in Kabul with the program leader for 10000 Women who has recently trained 300 women owned Afghan businesses, and, IBO ran a training program pilot on "E-commerce Training for Afghan Women 9 lawyers and officials from the Ministry of Women's Affairs. The training is developed pro bono from IBO's Legal Empowerment Network, which also can become part of the online justice application - making pro bono legal services the norm for this and other appropriate situations. 


c.      Expansion of Low Cost Computer programs (such as One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)) based on lessons learned from existing projects,

1.      General, Barriers

2.      Jalalabad

3.      Each of four district  capitals

4.      Camp for refugees or IDPs


www.openweblearning.org (OWL) is a free service for finding, organizing, sharing, evaluating, and rewarding the best of the web for learning and teaching.  OWL enables anyone to learn and teach safely from home when conditions outside are dangerous or disrupted due to pandemics, conflict, or disasters.  This reduces the need for brick and mortar schools, and distributed laptops are harder to attack.  OWL runs on OLPC laptops, any netbook, laptop, or computer, and on most web-enabled cell phones.  OWL is designed to provide both reach-back mentoring and expertise and to support and reward local educational entreprenurial initiatives to create and share lessons, to use OWL to collect teaching materials for lessons, to translate lessons to share, or to develop and share local lessons.  AikiLabs_OWL_26Oct09.pdf summarizes OWL's purpose, OWL_Introduction.pdf includes screen shots and instructions, and Tutoring with OWL will be available late in 2009.   Teachers can use OWL to educate kids in rural villages from local cities or from anywhere else in the world if international reach-back teaching support would be helpful and welcome.


d.       Experimentation with cell phone-based programs keyed to provide more capability as connections become more capable.

a.       General:  SIM-Village.  Expand beyond brick-and-mortar approaches (not enough teachers in the rural areas).  Link up with Mortenson?  David Luft--brickmakers. Barriers. 

b.      Jalalabad

c.       Each of four district  capitals

d.      Each of 25 villages

e.       Camp for refugees or IDPs 


6.      Business Development including online business

a.       General-Sharing information on market opportunities, extension of micro-credit, coordination of buyer/seller relationships, encouragement of entrepreneurs, work with InternetBar group on implementing an online business incubator through its PeaceTones Initiative (www.peacetones.org).

     Matchmaker engineering



b.Logical deal-flow for online business - based on InternetBar Microcommerce (microcredit plus e-commerce) Campaign Research in Kenya (2006), and further developed at conferences held at University of Toledo (2007), Tufts University (2008) and Bentley University (2008);

                                  1.  Local individuals can produce commercial goods (from crafts to ringtones) and get them into global markets in a way in which the bulk of the profits will be retained by the seller.  BUT, in order for this to happen, the following must be in place:

                    A.      Internet Connectivity must  be available--along with any needed training

                    B.       E-commerce tools--especially payment systems must be available, (e.g., PayPal)

                    C.      Local (or at least regional) banks must be available to take payments--depositor institutions

                    D.      Currency conversion is required--again a function of the banking infrastructure

                    E.       Local people need access to micro-loans so as to make their business operations viable

                    F.       Product delivery systems must be in place--UPS, FedEx, etc. for crafts and other goods (not needed for digital goods)

                    G.      Local, state and national laws (or political intermediaries) must not be in opposition--and kick-backs must be removed from the process

A, B & F are functions of forming business relationships with private companies who want to support the project for both good-will and pecuniary purposes. So, a dedicated aspect to the plan has to be to engage such companies as soon as possible to explore their interest level, logistical capabilities in our target countries and the business model. We need to get at least contingent commitments from players in these vital areas.

C, D, E & G above are functions of the financial system. There are two aspects.

·         IBO must ascertain whether local or regional banking systems can play the roles suggested or, in the alternative, whether other payment systems would have to be utilized--such as debit cards. However, there must be some local/regional banking infrastructure in place to minimally at least be a depository institution--the profits have to go someplace and be converted into currency that local people can use.

·         The second tier is global and relates to strengthening the lending process by guaranteeing or insuring the micro loans made to locals.

                              2.  Products can be sold online and payments can flow back to the local person IF:

                    H.     All of the factors above were present

                    I.         A website could be developed (or web sites) to facilitate sales and be operated probably from the U.S.

                    J.         Sufficient funds could be raised to promote/market the products world-wide (started in 2009 with PeaceTones campaign and World Justice Forum support)

a.       Fundraising is required here in the US and potentially elsewhere so that local people's products could be adequately marketed globally online. The program will succeed  but we must  address the costs of Internet marketing. By doing this through IB.org certainly we may get discounts or advertising/promotion as in-kind contributions.

3.  Standard of living, economic freedom and power and hopefully development of democratic-oriented, market-based economic growth could be enhanced--which directly impacts related health, poverty and other issues that are so vitally important to individual people's lives.


References:  David Luft

b.      Jalalabad

c.       Each of four district capitals

d.      Each of 25 villages

e.       Camp for refugees or IDPs.


7.      Training to Support Sustainable Economic Growth

     a.       General:  Building Afghan business capacity through a ‘Jump-Start’ (very focused and intensive) Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program (EFP) with hands-on instruction, training and support around 1) basic business skills, 2) identifying specific business opportunities, and encouraging the development of online businesses and norms for online businesses, and getting plans started and 3) “launch” support, including micro-investments or other forms of encouragement to “seed” multiple businesses, while expanding the community of ‘entrepreneurs.’  Training Afghan trainers to grow capacity on their own.

     Barefoot Solar Engineers


     References:  David Luft

     1.       How many people need to be trained, where?

b.      Jalalabad

c.       Each of the four district capitals

d.      Each of 25 villages

e.       Camp for refugees or IDPs

f.    IBO's  Legal Empowerment Network will support Afghans via organizing pro bono cyberlaw services from Afghan and international law firms and providing legal resources  to train Afghans to protect their online businesses by accessing harmonized e-commerce rule of law; training will also occur face to face through the use of student missions and collaborations with international and Afghan Universities and Colleges.

g.   E-Commerce Training for Afghan Women


Section C: Critical Enablers







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