PRT-U welcomes new director
1 March 2013
The Provincial Reconstruction Team, Uruzgan (PRT-U) has welcomed a new civilian director. Adrian Lochrin has handed over control of the PRT-U to John Feakes during a transfer of authority ceremony at the Multi National Base at Tarin Kot.
The role of the PRT-U is to build capacity in the local Uruzgan administration, lay a foundation for further development by the government and oversee Australian and United States funded infrastructure projects such as the building of schools and roads.
The civilian component of the PRT-U is comprised of 12 Australians from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and three United States personnel, one each from United States Aid, the State Department and United States Agriculture.
Australia and the United States also provide a military engineering, civil affairs, operations and force protection support so the civilian component can operate outside the Tarin Kot base. Australia took over the civilian director leadership of the PRT-U in mid 2010. Mr Lochrin was the second Australian director and began his term in August 2011.
“During my time here one of the main focuses of the PRT-U was building the capacity of the provincial administration,” Mr Lochrin said.
“We implemented a number of programs which focused on improving the skills of officials working in the administration and provided advisory support, especially in public financial management,” he added.
Attracting qualified people to work in Uruzgan is a challenge the PRT-U has sought to address through internship programs. The PRT-U is now running its second internship program and hope many of the graduates will go on to work in jobs in the provincial administration. Local infrastructure projects are also a continuing focus for the PRT-U.
“Drawing on Australian and United States military and civilian programs we have instigated and implemented small and large scale infrastructure projects throughout the province,” Mr Lochrin said.
“They have included the asphalting of Uruzgan roads, the construction of a Shura building in the governor’s compound and a Tarin Kot girls’ school,” he said.
During his time in Uruzgan Mr Lochrin said the strengthening of the province’s administrative capacity was a standout achievement to which PRT-U contributed.
“It was the best outcome during my time here, a product of international assistance and our Afghan partners taking ownership, wanting to take full responsibility of their own affairs. The Afghans in Uruzgan have grasped the concept of transition and understand what it means. They are fully aware Coalition forces and the PRT-U will leave the province and international aid will begin to filter through their own government,” Mr Lochrin said.
Incoming director Mr Feakes said the PRT-U will leave Uruzgan by the end of 2013.
“My main job will be to continue to encourage the provincial and district administrations to take responsibility for governing the province,” Mr Feakes said.
“The process began in mid 2012 and we gave ourselves up to 18 months for this. Progress has been good. We are standing back and the provincial administration has taken the lead, where previously the PRT-U would drive development,” he added.
Mr Feakes said there will be other projects that will need to be finalised by 2015.
“When we leave, AusAID will continue to support the Children of Uruzgan project which is responsible for building schools, training teachers, nurses and midwives. AusAID will also continue to support the construction of secondary and tertiary roads. Before we leave we need to ensure these projects are bedded down and can continue to run without the PRT-U being here,” Mr Feakes said.
Between 2006 and 2011 there was an increase in the number of operating schools from 34 to 205. Through the Children of Uruzgan project another 20 schools will be rehabilitated and built.
Also since 2006 there was an upgrading of more than 200km of roads and the bridges on the routes providing better access to services and markets.
The PRT-U has been operating in Uruzgan province since 2006.