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Afghanistan: Theme Parks

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the theme park for women in Lashkar Gah; and how much it cost. (287269)

The Bolan Park was built in Bolan, Lashkar Gah, in 2007 at the request of the Governor of Helmand and in response to an identified local need: it functions as a symbol for security and development in the area. The park is providing much-needed recreational space and facilities for the people of Lashkar Gar and the surrounding area. It is open to men, women and children with one day each week being set aside for women's exclusive use. One of the first major events hosted there was a US-funded agricultural fair to promote legal livelihoods attended by 1,700 Afghans. The park was also used for a successful cultural event organised by the Helmand Governor, which attracted more than 2,000 people.

The UK provided funding for the park through the Provincial Reconstruction Team. The park cost around £420,000 and was built alongside the Helmand River. The costs reflect the fact that during construction gabion walls were put in place to support the river bank, which helps prevent erosion, and to support the Bolan Bridge. In addition, the park has extensive lighting which is important for improving security at night.