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FEATURE STORY

Afghan Farmers Reap Benefits of Efficient Water Management

April 29, 2015

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Afghan man walks through constructed canal

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Farmers in Nangarhar Province are seeing the tangible benefits of efficient water use two years after the reconstruction of their irrigation canal.
  • The reconstruction, funded under the On-Farm Water Management Program of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, has led to a significant increase in crop yield and arable land.
  • The program receives funding support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and aims to improve agricultural productivity in project areas by enhancing the efficiency of water use.

BAR SULTANPUR VILLAGE, Nangarhar Province – Two years after improvements were made to the canal in Bar Sultanpur village, near Jalalabad City, the village’s crop yield has nearly doubled and the area of arable land has expanded.

“I own 2 hectares of farming land,” says Gul Agha, 45, farmer and the head of water supply in this village in Surkh Rod district in Nangarhar Province. “Before the canal improvement, I was only able to cultivate about 1.5 hectares, because of water shortages. Now I can cultivate all my land.”

Prior to the canal reconstruction, this village of 10,000 residents had 400 hectares of arable land, which have now increased to 500 hectares. Gul Agha says his crop yield has doubled, from 525 kilograms to more than 1,000.

The canal reconstruction was the result of ‘Dobandi’ and ‘Malakan’, two sub-projects funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) by a $125,000 grant under the On-Farm Water Management Program (OFWMP). Between August 2012 and January 2013, the sub-projects improved the water canal, which included lining 1,024 meters of canal floor and reconstruction of nearly 800 field turnout. These improved field turnout structures allow farmers to control the canal water and direct it to their farms. Previously, they had to create makeshift dams of mud and sticks to divert the water flow.

“Since the bottom of the canal was unpaved before the project, a great amount of water was wasted, and as a result the water we received was not sufficient for our farms,” Gul Agha recounts.  “Most of the villagers here are farmers, and this was damaging for us. For example, I have 14 members in my family, and this land is the only source of income to support them.”

 


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Malik Majeed, a local village elder, praises the impact of these projects. 

Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

" “Before the canal improvement, I was only able to cultivate about 1.5 hectares because of water shortages. Now I can cultivate all of my land.”  "

Gul Agha

Farmer, Bar Sultanpur village


According to Engineer Sharifullah Safi, OFWMP provincial director of the social department in Jalalabad City, the reconstruction of the canal is not only useful for the farmers and landowners, but also benefits the families living along the canal, who use the water for swimming, and washing clothes and dishes.

With a $25 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), the OFWMP aims to support on-farm water management investments in five regions (Kabul, Baghlan, Herat, Nangarhar and Mazar), covering a total of 19,000 hectares. OFWMP improves agricultural productivity in project areas by enhancing the efficiency of water use.

Program achieves goal

The program has been particularly successful in achieving this goal in Bar Sultanpur village, where its positive impact is tangible.

Malik Majeed, 55, a local village elder, praises the impact of these projects. “I have a very big family of 52 members, including my children and grandchildren, and we have 14 hectares of arable land,” he says. “We used to earn an income of 300,000 to 400,000 Afghanis (about $7,000) per year, but now our income has increased to 1 million Afghanis ($17,000). In the past it would take three or four hours for water to flow to our land from the canal, but now it only takes 20 minutes.”

Nazir, 40, who was elected by the local farmers to supervise canal water intake, says he is very pleased by the ease and comfort that has come about with the reconstruction and pavement of the canal.

He stoops down to remove a small pebble from the floor of the canal. “In the past, it would take hours and 50 to 60 people to clean the canal twice a year,” he says. “Now with 20 people we can complete it in a matter of hours. These projects are a huge success.”


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