Poppy-free Afghan provinces to receive $18.2 million
By Meena Haseeb - Thu Feb 14 2013, 10:38 am
Afghanistan’s Minister for Counter Narcotics Zarar Moqbel Osmani and U.S. Embassy’s Coordinating Director for Rule of Law and Law Enforcement Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland announced $18.2 million in Good Performers Initiative (GPI) awards, US Department of State announced following a press release.
The source fruther added, GPI awards are given to provinces that achieved or retained poppy-free status, reduced net poppy cultivation by more than 10 percent over the previous year, or made other exceptional counternarcotics efforts during the cultivation season. Twenty-one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces received GPI awards, including 17 provinces that earned $1 million awards for being poppy-free.
President Karzai launched the Good Performers Initiative in 2007 to deliver timely, high-impact development assistance to provinces leading the fight against poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. GPI projects help build infrastructure, employ local citizens, and give tangible recognition to governors who demonstrate strong leadership in reducing and eliminating poppy cultivation in their provinces.
To date, the GPI program has supported more than 100 development projects, including roads, schools, clinics, and other infrastructure projects, the statement added.
The Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs funds GPI, and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics works with each province to design and implement development projects using GPI funds.
GPI awards are calculated based on final poppy cultivation figures from the annual Afghanistan Opium Survey published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
Around 90% of the world’s opium, the raw source of heroin, comes from Afghanistan. According to Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a leading expert on drug interdiction efforts and counterinsurgency, opium production accounts for at least 20% of Afghanistan’s GDP. It is one of the largest sources of economic activity, along with foreign aid. If foreign aid decreases significantly in 2014 when U.S. troops are expected to withdraw, opium production will be “a very important driver of economic activity.”