Entries by Hamish Wilson

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Helmand 10: The battle for ‘Good Governance’

‘Good governance’ is an overused phrase in Helmand. Ive found it all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that simply hosting a shura – a gathering of tribal elders – constitutes ‘good governance’. Its even easier to make this mistake in a district that hasn’t seen many of them in recent years. […]

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Helmand 9: A momentary pause

This is an extraordinary job. Trying to bring about stabilisation – nurturing the conditions for effective governance and leadership, overseeing a vast swathe of reconstruction and development efforts, pushing forward notions of law and order  – in a place such as Musa Qal’eh – is nearly impossible to describe. Looking back on these past three […]

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Helmand 8: Bringing business to the bazaar

Find yourself downtown Musa Qal’eh and you’ll immediately be struck by its bustling bazaar. If its early in the morning you’ll find traders hawking all manner of wares from the cracked pavements, waving you inside from the entrances to their simple concrete stalls. There’s over a thousand shops here – in a manner of speaking […]

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Delivering stabilisation in Helmand

The context: In 2008, farmers in Helmand province of Afghanistan cultivated over 60% of the world’s total opium crop, undermining security, governance, and licit economic growth. Developing sustainable, alternative livelihoods presents a vast challenge amidst one of the world’s most complex and insecure of environments. Wasafiri’s role: Wasafiri consultant Hamish Wilson was engaged by the […]

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Helmand 7: Back into the maelstrom

“Good to see you mate. It’s been a long time”. Angus, the district Political Officer and the other half of our Stabilisation Team greeted me as I stepped off the military transport, fresh from two weeks leave. He looked ever so slightly haggard – the usual spring in his step a shade less energetic than […]

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Helmand 6: No ordinary commute

Commuting isn’t easy at the best of times. Travel into and out of Helmand’s northern district of Musa Qal’eh however, requires a whole new level of resilience. Heading out on leave involves the planning of a military operation. Limited helicopters mean I can only travel on odd-numbered days – provided I submit my request at […]

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Helmand 5: A humble game of football

The whistle blew and 300 people cheered for the first time in a generation. Ten men in Afghan Army fatigues advanced toward their opposite numbers, local students clad in matching striped jerseys. Plumes of dust rose from the freshly raked pitch while people clambered onto rooftops, straining for a better view. Popular music boomed from […]

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Helmand 4: Bringing a ghost town back to life

The Huey skimmed the jagged crest of the mountain at a furious pace. I squinted into the gale as the district of Now Zad emerged from behind the line of peaks standing guard. This rollercoaster 10-minute flight spared me the dangers of a gruelling, IED-riddled road journey from Musa Qal’eh. This had been my third […]

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Helmand 3: A historic transition

As the lumbering Osprey helicopter roared overhead, blasting its audience with a searing cloud of dust, so ended the era of Mullah Salaam. With the fall of Musa Qal’eh to the British in late 2007, Mullah Salaam became the highest profile Taliban commander to turn over his arms and renounce his position. In return he […]

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Helmand 2: Reflections on the way from the Madrassa

“It will probably be the greatest concentration of firepower in the District.” the battalion Executive Officer had assured me.  On his second tour in Afghanistan with the US Marine Corps, I was inclined to trust him on such things. That said, planning the security for the opening of a local madrassa – or religious school […]