DAMAN DISTRICT, Kandahar Province – The sun has not yet risen, but farmer Hayatullah, 30, is already hard at work on his farm. He is collecting gravel and preparing the land for the next round of cultivation. It is hard work but he has seen worse times.
“Since our village is located at the end of the water canal, water could not reach our farmlands before the canal intake gate was built. Our farmlands remained dry so we could not grow enough crops, and village residents stayed poor,” says Hayatullah of Azam Kala, a village in Daman district in Kandahar Province.
All this changed for Hayatullah and his fellow villagers when a canal intake and gates were rehabilitated and improved in 2011. They were rehabilitated as part of the reconstruction of the Spin Wala Canal, the main water channel for irrigation for the village farms. “After the canal intake and gates were rehabilitated, there was sufficient water for our village. Now people can cultivate their farmlands and make a better livelihood,” Hayatullah says.
Agricultural production has increased as the farmers are now able to cultivate areas of their land that were previously uncultivable because of the lack of irrigation. “Now farmers cultivate the abandoned farmlands—those they could never imagine would become cultivable one day,” says Haji Mohammad Nabi, 56, chair of Azam Kala Community Development Council. “They actually harvest a good amount of crops from those lands.”
The Spin Wala Canal is 23 kilometers long and could only irrigate 7.4 hectares of farmland. However, after its reconstruction and the improvement of the canal intake and gates on Turank river, the concretized canal now irrigates 2,145 hectares of farmland.
The rehabilitation of the irrigation system was carried out under the Irrigation Restoration and Development Project (IRDP) at a cost of 14.8 million afghanis ($215,000). IRDP operates under the umbrella of the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) in six regional offices: Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kunduz, and Mazar-e-Sharif. The project is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan.
IRDP supports the rehabilitation of irrigation systems serving some 300,000 hectares of land across the country. So far, a total of 98 irrigation schemes has been rehabilitated, covering 100,000 hectares of irrigation command area and benefiting over 63,000 farmers.