As of March 2017, 1.5 million people live in and around West Kabul.
Without funding from the U.S. and other donors the development and expansion of Kabul to support urban growth and economic activity would not have been possible.
Communities now attend mosques; families shop at the local bazaars; children go to school; people travel to work; and all without the fear of explosive remnants of war.
The streets of West Kabul see thousands of cars and people going about their daily routine.
When the Afghans of West Kabul embark on a journey, they face traffic and thousands of busy people. But no more mines.
Kabul University, in west Kabul, was established in 1931 and was focal point for debate, politics and, ultimately, conflict for many years.
The campus itself became a frontline between warring parties in 1992. Classrooms, books and treasured accounts of university life were destroyed; mines were laid and explosive debris scattered across the campus.
The Taliban-era also proved difficult for the university’s open ethos. Women were banned from attending for over five years.
Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) and HALO were initially funded to clear the battle areas around Kabul University. Then in 1995 and 1996 HALO was deployed to clear mines found within the campus walls.
Since then, the expansion of the campus and increasing student numbers have brought to light further areas of contamination.
From September 2015 to September 2016 HALO deployed more teams to conduct clearance in areas designated for development.
These tasks were prioritized due to their proximity to university buildings, with students and staff regularly passing through the land.
U.S. funded teams cleared 64 acres from 2015 - 2016.
New buildings, including a women’s dormitory, have increased the number of young people who can seek a good education in Afghanistan. This would not have been possible without land released to the university after U.S.-funded clearance.
The women’s dormitory was built right next to contaminated land that female students passed through to reach their building.
Lila is 23 years old from Ghor province, nine hours drive from Kabul. The women’s dormitory allows her to stay in the city and study because Ghor is too far to travel daily and is often cut off by heavy snow in winter. Lila is studying nursing in the faculty building some distance from the dormitory. She can now pass freely through the university to attend lectures without fear of mines or explosive debris.
Every year, over 20,000 students benefit from HALO clearance at Kabul University. They come from every one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
Case Study: Kabul Medical University
With one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, Afghanistan badly needs more doctors and nurses. The clearance of West Kabul allowed the country's medical teaching university to re-open its doors and expand. There is now a robust network of hospitals in West Kabul to combat infant mortality, and provide general medical care for Afghans.
Such has been the pace and success of redevelopment in West Kabul, that without the records, photos and testimony of those who took part in the clearance, the impact of humanitarian mine clearance would be lost from the collective memory of this scarred capital.