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FEATURE STORY October 11, 2017

Afghan Villagers Unite to Preserve Access to Water


Agriculture productivity has increased in southern Afghanistan as a result of the rehabilitation of irrigation canals supported by the Irrigation Restoration and Developent Project (IRDP).

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


  • Villagers in Kandahar region are inspired to contribute to development activities after seeing the direct benefits of a government development project.
  • Activities undertaken by the Irrigation Restoration and Development Project (IRDP) to rehabilitate irrigation canals and built new infrastructure are resulting in significant increases in agricultural output and encouraging villagers to invest in them.
  • IRDP supports the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, serving some 300,000 hectares of land across the country.

DAND DISTRICT, Kandahar Province – Every year in the middle of March, villagers in Qalach-e-Abad village come together to clean the Nawai Pathaw canal to ensure they have enough water to irrigate their farms for the rest of the year. This what they have done this year—cleaning the canal to make sure all of them have access to enough water for irrigation on their farms for the rest of the year.

Haji Abdul Wali, 51, head of the Community Development Council (CDC) for Qulchabad village, is monitoring the progress and supervising people. “As a matter of routine, the canal needs to be cleaned every year on account of mud and silt that accumulate and need to be removed for the water to flow smoothly,” he explains.

Today, over 100 villagers are working together to clean the Nawai Pathaw irrigation canal. Haji Wali says it will take 20 days to clean the 10.5-kilometer long canal, which provides irrigation water to six villages in Dand district in Kandahar Province. It was common for villagers to spend 40 days or more to clean and fix all the leakages in the canal. Despite this annual restoration, in most years, villagers ran into water shortages due to recurring leaks.

“In the past, a lot of water was wasted but this is not so now,” says Haji Wali. The canal, which was originally constructed nearly half a century ago, was rehabilitated by the Irrigation Restoration and Development Project (IRDP) in June 2014. The rehabilitation work, which took a year, included building sluice gates, a protection wall, flumes, and culverts along the length of the canal. As a result, agricultural output as well as productivity have improved. The canal now irrigates 2,748 hectares of farmlands compared to 2,320 hectares previously.

"Since IRDP invested in this project and people witnessed a significant increase in their harvests, they were happy to invest personally in the canal too."
Haji Abdul Wali
head of Community Development Council, Qalach-e-Abad village


To date, the Irrigation Restoration and Development Project (IRDP) supported rehabilitation of 98 irrigation schemes, covering 100,000 hectares of irrigation command area and benefiting over 63,000 farmers. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

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