UNITAR Hiroshima supports new encyclopedia compiled by Afghan trainees

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

Trainees of the Fellowship for Afghanistan, a program sponsored by UNITAR Hiroshima, have completed the initial volume of a new encyclopedia for the nation. The encyclopedia is the first to be produced in Afghanistan in 30 years. Several trainees visited Hiroshima Governor Yuzan Fujita on October 4 to present brand-new copies of the book.

The encyclopedia comes in two versions, Pashtun and Dari, the official languages of Afghanistan. The trainees added new sections involving such subjects as society, science, economics, and culture to an encyclopedia which had been left incomplete due to the chaos brought by the Soviet invasion in the 1980s as well as Taliban rule in the 1990s.

The project, initiated by the trainees of the year 2005, was then adopted by successive groups of trainees. The first volume of the encyclopedia was completed in three years, supported by a fund collected from several sources, including the Afghan government, which has totaled approximately $50,000 US. The entire series, with about 50 volumes, is set to be completed in a few years.

Gul Afghan Saleh, 50, a trainee in last year’s program and an advisor this time, asked Governor Fujita for his continuing support of the training program. “The encyclopedia is just a small fruit of the training, but it will make an important contribution to peacebuilding in our country.”

The training is an eight-month program, targeted for such professionals as government officials, doctors, and educators in Afghanistan. The Hiroshima Prefectural Government is the main sponsor for the program, which was initiated in 2003. This year, 24 trainees have been hosted by UNITAR Hiroshima since April.

(Originally published on November 5, 2008)