Catriona Laing

Catriona Laing

British Ambassador to Zimbabwe

Part of UK in Afghanistan

20th May 2013 Harare, Zimbabwe

Huge support for Helmand community elections

Residents of a key district in Afghanistan have participated in huge numbers as registration for the District Community Council (DCC) elections began yesterday.

Residents at the Nad-e Ali Shura
“Your vote is your power”

More than 2000 people from Nad-e Ali in Helmand province attended a district Shura (meeting) led by Provincial Governor Naeem Baluch and supported by community leaders.

The District Governor, Mohammad Ibrahm, opened the meeting with a speech recognising the contribution and good work of elected DCC members over the last three years. He told the Shura that achievements in Nad-e-Ali have been due to public support and hard work by community elders.

“DCC members work shoulder to shoulder with us, working for the people, and what you see today – a district in this stage of democracy – is a result of their hard work,” he said.

Speaking about the importance of this week’s elections he added:

“Today is an important day. Today is the start of your future. Your vote is your power, use it to elect the real elder for your area.”

Provincial Governor Naeem reinforced the importance of people using their vote. Speaking of the qualities of effective DCC leaders he said: “Vote for the elder who will build your children’s and their children’s future, the elder who will hold the Government to account and fight for your rights.”

“The coming year is the start of stability and democracy, not the end,” he added.

This week will see the people of Nad-e-Ali register to participate in the election.  After the first two days of registration, 2200 came forward from all the zones of Nad-e-Ali. It is anticipated that this will be the largest election held in Helmand to date.

On the first day of registration, 690 residents came from the Kopak area to register, last year this area was still contested and had no representative on the current District Community Council.


  • District Community Councils currently operate in seven Helmand districts covering 80% of the population. More than 34,000 Helmandis have voted in District Community Council elections since 2009 and over 300 people have served as District Councillors.
  • Community political representation and participation is at the core of the Helmand Model of Sub-National Governance that Helmand PRT has pioneered.
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5 comments on “Huge support for Helmand community elections

  1. How different from the first Nad-e-Ali election back in early 2009 which took place in Lashkar Gah. Excellent short report from an Afghan observer. A symbol of hope for the future of Helmand.

  2. how cool, but why these progresses do not get reflection at media? we knw the media is bias in hilmand, in past the journalists were getting money and lands from ex-governor as bribes and they were publishing every small news but now they ignore such big progress!!!!

    1. Thank you Iala and Hameed for these comments – much appreciated.
      Hameed, You are right it is so frustrating that these good news stories do not get much coverage. We do our best through tweets and blogs but please do spread the word. Helmand is a very different place than 2007 and it has led the way on democratic governance and the sub-national level.

  3. Catriona Laing,

    In Hilmand, how is it determined which DCC member represents which area within a district? Do the candidates come from sub-district CDCs that represent villages, utilizing the village leadership representation system, similar to DDAs in the rest of the south? I ask because we don’t have DCCs in Kandahar, Zabul or Uruzgon. The DDAs in these provinces are directly related to the leadership of clusters (10-15 CDC / villages per cluster).

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Mark

      Community District Councils (CDCs) do not cover a whole district (at least not in Helmand) and therefore in order to avoid areas being unrepresented we do not use the CDC system for the District Community Council (DCC) elections. The Helmand DCC elections are based on zones: all districts in Helmand have zones dating back to the days of the old king. Within those zones seats are allocated to ‘sub-zones.’ The process starts with a radio campaign confirming the upcoming elections. A large shura (meeting) is held attended by the Provincial Governor and the Chairman of the Provincial Council, where the election process is outlined. Four days of voter registration follows in which voters from all over the district register for the election. Two weeks later the elections are held. The most recent election held in Helmand was for the re-election of the Nad-e Ali DCC which had reached its three year term point. Over 6000 voters took part in the election and every sub-zone has a representative. Some basic rules apply, such as anyone standing for election must be a resident of the sub-zone in which they are standing, and they must not be a paid government official. I hope this answers your question!

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About Catriona Laing

I was born in Cardiff but brought up in South London. I studied economics and joined the civil service through the Government Economic Service after 2.5 years working for the…

I was born in Cardiff but brought up in South London. I studied
economics and joined the civil service through the Government Economic
Service after 2.5 years working for the Government of Botswana as an
infrastructure economist.
I was posted to Kenya to advise on the government’s development
programmes in East Africa, and then seconded to the United Nations
Mission in Somalia heading the UN Development Office.
I spent five years working for Prime Minister Tony Blair in his
strategy unit, and was later posted to head the DFID office in Sudan
running a £116 million programme and addressing the drivers of conflict.
Most recently I have been working for the Ministry of Justice to
establish the new international function with responsibility for
European and international justice.
I live with my partner – Clive Bates and our Sudanese dog – in
Balham. My hobbies are yoga, dog and mountain walking and cooking.

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