April 13, 2007:
Part of the reconstruction effort
in Afghan is all about ideas. No, not political brainwashing, but getting
across concepts like how to avoid the land mines that are still encountered in
about fifteen percent of the land, and how to live healthier lives in general.
Getting information like this out to a population that is only about 30 percent
literate (and only about 16 percent of the women can read) uses radio as much
as possible. Television coverage is spotty, and in many parts of the south,
conservative Pushtun tribes frown on videos.
Picture books, or presentations using images
projected onto a screen (or the side of a building) also run into cultural
problems in the south. It's not for nothing that this is Taliban territory. The
tribes that tend to support the Taliban, do so because these are the tribes
that created the Taliban. That means your visuals cannot show boys and girls
together, unless they are very young. Just to be on the safe side, many of the
reconstruction projects leave girls and women out of the visuals entirely.
Cultural sensitivity is always an issue when doing
reconstruction problems, but the no-nos are particularly numerous in
Afghanistan, which is a major reason why Islamic terrorists find the area so
receptive to them.