Irrigation Builds a Circle of Life

Project teams rebuilding a section of the Joyee Kamil canal. Periodic ramps and stairs are built along the edge of the canal in
Project teams rebuilding a section of the Joyee Kamil canal. Periodic ramps and stairs are built along the edge of the canal in order to ease access for livestock.
USAID/CDP/CADG
Repairs to Joyee Kamil canal in Ghazni Province will allow improved water access for 5,000 families
9 NOVEMBER 2011 | GHAZNI, AFGHANISTAN
 
Improved access means more water for livestock and better fodder quality for 1,750 households. As livestock health improves, families will return to raising cattle and sheep, generating critical income while revitalizing a traditional industry in Ghazni Province.
 
Thirty years ago, an estimated 70 percent of households in Ghazni Province owned livestock. Sheep and chickens were purchased for meat while dairy cattle were seen as a long term investment. A family spent $2,000 on a cow and earned $300 per year from the milk while breeding and growing a herd. After five or six years, the family could expect to recover their investment and begin to accrue profits.
 
This changed as war and insurgent activity destroyed irrigation systems across the province, raising the price of fodder while drying out community watering holes. A dairy cow needs to drink 40 to 70 liters of water per day and milk yield collapses when water is unavailable. As milk yields fall and the cost of feed rises, families are forced to sell their cattle at a steep loss. Recently, seasonal drought has exacerbated this problem.
 
Ghazni District, near the eastern border of the province, provides a stark example of these problems. Long-standing damage to the 18 km Joyee Kamil canal magnified the impact of recent droughts, forcing an estimated 750 of the 2,500 families still raising cattle along the canal to give up their livestock entirely. When coupled with declining farm output, these losses created a crisis.
 
In an effort to help farmers, residents, and remaining livestock owners in the Joyee Kamil area, the provincial governor and the Ghazni District Development Council joined with USAID, and its implementing partner Central Asia Development Group, to excavate and reconstruct an 18 km section of the canal. During a 10 month period, more than 1,000 residents resurfaced and lined the canal walls to improve water flows to neighboring farms. To help animals, such as cows, sheep, and donkeys, access the water easily, the workforce added stairs and ramps.
 
Residents are already benefitting from improved water access for their livestock. Villagers along the canal expect fodder prices to fall as farm output grows and many farmers are claiming that their cattle are in better health. These benefits are expected to improve the calculus of livestock ownership and revitalize a critical industry in the district.

Last updated: January 07, 2014

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