PAGHMAN DISTRICT, Kabul Province – Five farmers climb the scrubby hills, releasing water along different sections of a newly rehabilitated irrigation canal. The farmers own land in the high and low areas of Poshta Pazhak village in Paghman district, just 27 km north of Kabul city.
Today, they are working together and chatting idly about the hot weather as they open each canal channel. The days of dispute over water distribution are behind them. “The biggest problem in the community used to be water distribution,” says Ramazan Ibrahimkhil, 40, head of the Pazhak village shura, the local community council.
“Disputes came about because the farms in the higher areas naturally received the most water, while lower landowners complained their land was not getting enough water,” says Ramazan. “I had to come here every day to resolve these disputes, which wasted a lot of time and energy of everyone involved.”
The water is distributed fairly without any problems now, says Ramazan. This and other irrigation challenges have been resolved thanks to the rehabilitation of the 8-km long Pazhak canal under the On-Farm Water Management Project (OFWMP). The rehabilitation of both canals took a year and was completed in July 2018 at a total cost of 14.3 million afghanis (about $198,770)*.
The Pazhak canal project benefited 170 households in four villages—Bala Sar, Guj, Poshta Pazhak, and Sinho. Another 424 households in the five villages of Dasht Qara Qhochi, Gonbad, Kaj Gonbad, and Oryakhel benefited from the Qara Qhochi canal project.
“People don’t have any disputes over the irrigation water anymore and everyone feels it is fairly distributed,” says farmer Hazrat Mohammad, 52, who is deputy head of the Pazhak shura.
Hazrat lists the benefits that farmers will enjoy from more reliable irrigation: “Before, people planted only wheat because it can grow without much water, but now in Pazhak, we can plant corn, potatoes, and beans. Water wastage has decreased by 25 percent. Another villager’s yield increased by just over 100 percent because of the canal. The average income will almost double for farmers.”