Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Kites of Kabul

Image result for kabul kites

Image result for kabul kites

Image result for kabul kites

Image result for kabul kites

Image result for ‫افغانی بادبادک‬‎

 Afghans gather on a Friday on Nadir Shah Hill, or Kite Hill- to fly paper kites and battle others in a traditional match. When a Kite is cut children with long brooms have to catch the kites before their prize blows away. Kite flying is a popular recreation for Afghan children

This isn't a kite photo, but a stunning panorama of Kabul.
Image result for kabul kites

Thursday, August 10, 2017

National Procurement Commission & Authority of Afghanistan - an introduction

NPC & NPA Introduction:


About Us:

The importance of procurement processes roots from persistent connection between procurement and all other sectors in governments. Nowadays, procurement plays vital role in human society’s development at national and international levels. In addition, sound procurement system leads to economic and socio-political stability in a country. Through reasonable financial and economic mechanisms and in the light of national regulatory frameworks as well as global standards, procurement facilitates health, education and other infrastructural services for citizens, and paves the way for business development and brighter future for all. The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan recognizes the key role which public procurement plays in a country. Based on surveys 19 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and approximately 50 percent of National budget is spent through public procurement, therefore the government took a number of reforms up to provide better pubic services, establish an effective and transparent procurement system, controlling public expenditure, and decrease corruption. Based on decree no. 16 of H.E. the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on 20/7/1393 the National Procurement Authority (NPA) established under the Administrative Office of the President. Afterwards through the legislative decree no. 60 on 21/11/93, decree no. 72 on 13/12/93 and decree no. 75, the Special Procurement Commission (SPC) upgraded to National Procurement Commission (NPC), Contract Management Office (CMO) dissolved, while the Afghanistan Reconstruction & Development Services (ARDS) and Procurement Policy Unit (PPU) merged to the National Procurement Authority (NPA). Then the Procurement Law was ratified by the cabinet of GIRoA by directive no. 20 on 11/6/1394, and enforced through legislative decree no. 75 on 13/6/1394, and after that it was published at official gazette no. 1186 on 15/7/1395. Based on the article 79th of the constitution, this legislative decree (75 – 13/6/1394) dispatched to the Parliament of Afghanistan for ratification purpose and ratified by the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on 23/10/1394. As per the constitution’s directives; the bill after the ratification of lower house of parliament (Wolesi Jirga) dispatched to Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) for endorsement, and after ratification of both houses of parliament; it was signed and approved by the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through decree no. 90, and published at official gazette no. 1223 on 27/6/1395.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Contract to design Kabul urban master plan approved (New Kabul City)

*Blogger's note - this is an article from January of 2017.  This is not new news*


On
Jan 08, 2017 
KABUL (Pajhwok): The National Procurement Commission (NPC) has approved four contracts, including one for drafting and designing urban master plan for Kabul city.
A statement from the Presidential Palace to Pajhwok Afghan News said the contracts worth 460 million afghanis were signed at weekly meeting of the NPC that met Saturday evening with the president in the chair.
Other contracts were about construction of roads in the 10th police district of Kabul. The contracts of Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS) services in Kunar province were extended.
The meeting contracted a company to draft and design urban master plan for Kabul city as suggested by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
The meeting directed the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to oversee performance of BPHS and EPHS services in Kunar.
The NPC also reviewed repairing process of the Afghan embassy’s building in London.
President Ghani directed the foreign minister to provide programs for repairing of Afghanistan’s embassies in foreign countries and share progress with the Presidential Palace.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Delivering safe childbirth in Afghanistan

**Author's note - This article was written in 2011.  I'll be posting more on this topic in the near future**

Delivering safe childbirth in Afghanistan



 
An Afghan midwife talks with a family after a successful hospital delivery. 
Photograph: Olivia Arthur/Magnum Photos

First published on Friday 6 May 2011 02.00 EDT

Roya, a midwife in Guldara, north of Kabul, is on the frontline of what may no longer be a war zone, but is still a killing field for women. Afghanistan has the highest proportion of women who die in childbirth of any country in the world.

"It is very common that women give birth at home and either the mother or the child dies," Roya says. "Mothers at home mostly deliver in a sitting position, which can cause the baby's body to end up in the wrong position during delivery. Because the mother doesn't have enough milk in the first three days after delivery, they give butter to the child. Often when they deliver the baby, they don't cut the umbilical cord properly with a clean instrument, which means it gets infected and the child dies."

According to figures from the Institute of Health Metrics in Seattle published last year, 1,575 women died for every 100,000 births in Afghanistan in 2008 – the equivalent figure for the UK is eight. Unicef says 52 babies out of every 1,000 die within two weeks of birth and 134 before their first birthday. A third of the deaths are caused by obstructed labour, in which years of heavy toil, having too many children too young, and possibly vitamin D deficiency as a result of purdah (which forces women to stay indoors), may all play a part.

The vast majority of women – around 87% – deliver with no skilled help, partly because of the paucity of health centres and midwives, partly because of the harsh terrain, and partly because male honour still demands women stay in their homes.

Just before 9/11, Brigid McConville of the White Ribbon Alliance for safe motherhood visited Kandahar province to see how women gave birth there. She visited a compound full of women, girls and babies who, from the age of 11, were not permitted to leave without a male family member as escort. "Giving birth was within that compound, with a neighbour or relative to help," she says. "They gave birth on a cloth over a dung heap, which absorbs the blood. The source of water was the stream running down the hillside behind. The toilets were also on that hillside. Women could only go there under cover of darkness. The stream was polluted. No wonder so many babies die."

The hunt for Osama bin Laden, which recently came to a bloody end, brought soldiers but also unprecedented aid to Afghanistan. The country's tragic record on childbirth triggered international support for a government initiative to train new midwives in remote rural areas. World Health Organisation estimates suggest Afghanistan needs 4,546 midwives to cover 90% of pregnancies – although USAid says it needs 8,000. In 2002, it had just 467.

Save the Children, which runs a college in Jawzjan province, says 2,400 midwives have been trained since the government launched these 18-month community courses and there are 31 schools instead of the six that existed in the cities before 2002. Linda Doull, Merlin's director of health and policy, talks of the sheer physical difficulty in Afghanistan's mountainous regions of accessing any sort of healthcare. "Some women travel three days by donkey over mountain ridges," she says. The need is to get care closer to them. "We choose women to train as midwives from the remote rural villages so that they go back there," she says.

Lima, 25, has delivered more than 600 live babies at the Uruzgan provincial hospital since qualifying in 2007. Women travel many miles, she says, and sometimes are robbed or punished for making the trip by people she calls "militants". "One of the sad cases happened last month," she says. "I received a woman who had delivered at home. When she came to the hospital she was bleeding and had lost a lot of blood. My colleague and I couldn't save her and she died. She left eight children behind her."

According to Save the Children, which published a major report, Missing Midwives, this year, there are just 13 midwives in Uruzgan province where 12,000 women deliver every year and 300 die. Afghanistan has now trained between half and a third of the midwives it needs – although there are still major issues around getting pregnant women to the clinics where they are based. But the worry now is that, as the pull-out of troops accelerates, the funding for training will dry up.

It appears to be happening already. A midwifery college in Kunar, in the heart of the mountainous, violent northeast of the country bordering Pakistan's tribal areas, has just closed. It was being funded by Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations, but once one tranche of students had graduated, the money stopped and no other donors have come forward.

Those in the field say they are aware of a "rethink" towards funding. USAid, which has supported training, is looking at how best the money should be used. Funding for one of the Merlin schools, in Kunduz, ended in April because the midwife quota set for that region has been fulfilled. It is supposed to start again in two years.

It's a sensitive issue. Nobody wants to criticise donors over decisions concerning Afghanistan, but Unicef's deputy country representative, Gopal Sharma, says the job of training midwives is far from done. "There is a big gap in funding which needs to be filled."

Provision is dire in Afghanistan, but no country has enough midwives, according to campaigners such as the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, which estimates that at least 350,000 more are needed worldwide. In some countries they have been trained but the government-run health service cannot afford to employ them. Some blame the International Monetary Fund for its past edicts on public-sector employment. Some just point to the poverty of developing countries and the low priority of health in the government budget.

The dreadful conditions in Afghanistan are a far cry from hygienic NHS labour wards, although the UK is just 23rd in the global league table. Yet Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, argues that even the UK is 4,500 midwives short. Current numbers failed to anticipate the rising birth-rate of the past 10 years, nor the increasing complexities of cases, as older women and those with other health problems such as obesity go into labour – nor the need for post-birth care over breastfeeding and the risk of infection, for example.

Campaigners say more midwives are critical if the world is to get anywhere near to meeting the two most failing UN millennium development goals of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters and child deaths by two-thirds. Every day, 1,000 women and 2,000 babies die of infections and other complications of childbirth, according to childbirth campaigners. Trained midwives can identify potential problems in pregnancy and attempt to ensure women give birth in clinics where they have a chance. But one in three women (35%) still gives birth alone or with only friends or relatives on hand.

At the UN summit on the development goals in New York last September, government, private and charitable donors pledged $40bn (£23bn) to improve maternal and child health. "Now we have to make sure the promises are kept," says McConville, "and money goes on training midwives."

The secret behind Italy's rarest pasta


Away from its famed cerulean seas, Sardinia’s craggy interior is a twisting maze of deep chasms and impenetrable massifs that shelter some of Europe’s most ancient traditions.

Residents here still speak Sardo, the closest living form of Latin. Grandmothers gaze warily at outsiders from under embroidered veils. And, in a modest apartment in the town of Nuoro, a slight 62-year-old named Paola Abraini wakes up every day at 7 am to begin making su filindeu – the rarest pasta in the world.
For 300 years, the recipe of su filindeu has remained in the town of Nuoro (Credit: Credit: ozzadavies/Flickr)
For 300 years, the recipe of su filindeu has remained in the town of Nuoro (Credit: ozzadavies/Flickr)

In fact, there are only two other women on the planet who still know how to make it: Abraini’s niece and her sister-in-law, both of whom live in this far-flung town clinging to the slopes of Monte Ortobene.

No one can remember how or why the women in Nuoro started preparing su filindeu (whose name means “the threads of God”), but for more than 300 years, the recipe and technique have only been passed down through the women in Abraini’s family – each of whom have guarded it tightly before teaching it to their daughters.

But after an unexpected invitation to Abraini’s home, I found myself in her kitchen, watching her work.

I wasn’t her first guest, though. Last year, a team of engineers from Barilla pasta came to see if they could reproduce her technique with a machine. They couldn’t. After hearing rumours about a secret Sardinian pasta, Carlo Petrini, the president of Slow Food International, visited this spring. And this summer, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver stopped by to ask Abraini if she could teach him how to make the dish. After failing for two hours, he threw his hands up and said, “I’ve been making pasta for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Paola Abraini, 62, wakes up at 7 am every day to prepare the pasta (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
Paola Abraini, 62, wakes up at 7 am every day to prepare the pasta (Credit: Eliot Stein)

“Many people say that I have a secret I don’t want to reveal,” Abraini told me, smiling. “But the secret is right in front of you. It’s in my hands.”

Su filindeu is made by pulling and folding semolina dough into 256 perfectly even strands with the tips of your fingers, and then stretching the needle-thin wires diagonally across a circular frame in an intricate three-layer pattern. It’s so difficult and time-consuming to prepare that for the past 200 years, the sacred dish has only been served to the faithful who complete a 33km pilgrimage on foot or horseback from Nuoro to the village of Lula for the biannual Feast of San Francesco.

When I arrived, the October feast was three days away and Abraini had just finished making enough su filindeu to feed the 1,500 pilgrims expected to descend on Lula from throughout Sardinia. She worked five hours every day for a month to make 50kg of the pasta, and for the larger nine-day feast in May, she’ll prepare four times as much.

“There are only three ingredients: semolina wheat, water and salt,” Abraini said, vigorously kneading the dough back and forth. “But since everything is done by hand, the most important ingredient is elbow grease.”
The dish is so difficult to make that for 200 years it was not served to the general public (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
The dish is so difficult to make that for 200 years it was not served to the general public (Credit: Eliot Stein)

Abraini patiently explained how you work the pasta thoroughly until it reaches a consistency reminiscent of modelling clay, then divide the dough into smaller sections and continue working it into a rolled-cylindrical shape.

Then comes the hardest part, a process she calls, “understanding the dough with your hands.” When she feels that it needs to be more elastic, she dips her fingers into a bowl of salt water. When it needs more moisture, she dips them into a separate bowl of regular water. “It can take years to understand,” she beamed. “It’s like a game with your hands. But once you achieve it, then the magic happens.”

When the semolina reached just the right consistency, Abraini picked up the cylindrical strand to stretch and fold the dough, doubling it as she pressed the heads of the su filindeu into her palms. She repeated this sequence in a fluid motion eight times. With each sweeping pull, the dough became thinner and thinner. After eight sequences, she was left with 256 even strands about half as wide as angel-hair pasta. She then carefully laid the strands on a circular base, one on top of another, to form a cross, trimming any excess from the ends with her fingers before repeating the process over and over.

First the dough is worked until it reaches the consistency of modelling clay (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)

The dough is then folded and pulled to create the pasta strands (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
The pasta is done when there are 256 razor-thin, even strands (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
When she’d formed three layers, she took the base outside to dry in the Sardinian sun. After several hours, the layers hardened into delicate sheets of white razor-thin threads resembling stitched lace. Abraini then broke the circular sheets into crude strips and packed them into boxes, ready for the San Francesco feast’s prior to place them in boiling sheep’s broth with grated pecorino and offer it as a thick soup to the pilgrims.

“No one’s really sure how this ancient tradition started, but it’s at the heart of the festival,” Stefano Flamini, this year’s prior, told me. “If there’s no su filindeu, there’s no Feast of San Francesco.”

But after more than 300 years in the same matrilineal family tree, these threads of God may need a miracle to survive for future generations. Only one of Abraini’s two daughters knows the basic technique, and lacks the passion and patience of her mother. Neither of Abraini’s daughters have daughters of their own. The two other women in Abraini’s family who still carry on the tradition are now both in their 50s and have yet to find willing successors among their own children.

“This is one of the most at-risk foods of becoming extinct, in large part because it’s one of the most difficult pastas to make that exists,” said Raffaella Ponzio, head coordinator of Slow Food International’s Ark of Taste, an initiative that aims to classify and preserve the world’s most endangered culinary traditions. Of the project’s 3,844 listed items, no other pasta is made by as few producers as su filindeu – making it both the world’s rarest and most endangered pasta.
After drying, the layers harden into delicate sheets of threads that resemble lace (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
After drying, the layers harden into delicate sheets of threads that resemble lace (Credit: Eliot Stein)


“Conserving su filindeu isn’t just a question of a culinary art form, but also a piece of cultural identity,” Ponzio added.

Recognizing this, Abraini has done something previously unheard of with her family’s tightly guarded dish: she attempted to teach girls in Nuoro from other families how to make it.

“It didn’t go well,” Abraini admitted. First, she approached the local government to see if she could open up a small school, but they told her there was no money. Then, she agreed to invite students into her home.

“The problem was that once they saw how I actually do it, they’d say, ‘It’s just too much work’, and wouldn’t come back,” she said.

Yet, Abraini refuses to let the tradition fade away, making it her mission to share su filindeu with the world. In the last few years, Italy’s premier food and wine magazine, Gambero Rosso, has invited her to Rome twice so they can film her preparing the dish. Recently, she’s begun making su filindeu for three restaurants in the area – and in the process, offering non-pilgrims a chance to taste it for the first time.

At one of those restaurants, Al Ciusa, her black squid-ink dyed su filindeu nero won Sardinia’s Porcino d’Oro prize for best dish in 2010.
In 2010, the squid-ink su filindeu won Sardinia’s Porcino d’Oro prize for best dish (Credit: Credit: Eliot Stein)
In 2010, the squid-ink su filindeu won Sardinia’s Porcino d’Oro prize for best dish (Credit: Eliot Stein)


At another, Il Refugio, it’s the most popular item on the menu.


“We have people coming from all over Europe just to taste it,” owner Silverio Nanu told me as I sampled the dish. When I shared that news with Abraini, her eyes danced with delight.

“You know, for me it’s a blessing just to be able to make su filindeu. I’ve been in love with it since the first time I ever saw it, and I love it more each day,” she said. “I hope to continue to make if for many years ahead – but if one day I have to stop, at least I’ll have a video.”