The first ever District Community Council elections in Marjah have taken place just a year after Operation MOSHTARAK was launched by ISAF and Afghan forces.
The District Community Council (DCC) will consist of up to 35 members. It will link the community more closely to the provincial government in Lashkar Gah and national government in Kabul.
The council’s functions will include how to spend central government money on essential services such as schools and health clinics.
Speaking about progress in this area, Michael O’Neill, Head of the British-led Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team, which has been helping the Afghans establish DCCs in Helmand, said:
These elections are a powerful indicator of the progress achieved in Marjah over the past year. District Community Councils are an important part of representative governance to give local communities a voice and extend Afghan delivery of public services.
The Marjah DCC is the sixth to be established in Helmand, from Garmsir in the south to Musa Qal’ah in the north. These bodies reflect Helmand’s strong tradition of participatory decision-making, and will contribute to an environment in which vibrant and peaceful local politics can flourish.
The elections followed a ‘shura’, or meeting of elders, last month that was attended by over 1,300 district residents who came to hear Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal set out plans for the poll.
The provincial government’s ambition of establishing a District Community Council in Marjah has been made possible by an improving security situation after Operation MOSHTARAK began to clear the area of insurgent fighters, bring increased security and freedom of movement, and pave the way for reconstruction and development.