A project that repaired canals in eastern Afghanistan renews fields and a community
25 JANUARY 2013 | KHOST, AFGHANISTAN
When Abdul Ahmad left Pakistan for Afghanistan it symbolized more than one man’s decision to come home. It marked the return of a generation of farmers who had left Tani district in the eastern province of Khost because their lands were too dry for crops to grow. “For years I worked in Pakistan because we had no water for our farmland. We are all farmers in my village,” says Abdul Ahmad.
Tani depended on agriculture but years of neglect of its irrigation infrastructure had made it impossible to grow wheat, corn and barley, once the region’s staple crops. Villagers like Abdul Ahmad were forced to leave for Pakistan in order to find work. They got by and sent money home to support their families.
The Afghan government partnered with USAID on a project that recruited 850 residents to repair the district’s irrigation infrastructure. Laborers drawn from the community rebuilt 2.5 km of canals, canal banks and a crucial water-intake. Abdul Ahmad was one of those who worked on the project. “Not only did I get to come home to work, my job was to help develop my region. The improvements we made will last for decades,” he says proudly.
Tani is transformed. Flooding is a thing of the past. Healthy crops stand tall on land that has not yielded a harvest in years. Not a single home has been damaged by flooding since August, when the project concluded. More than 3,500 households are reaping the economic benefits of the change that has about.
Abdul Ahmad says he does not expect to return to Pakistan any time soon. “Look at the nice crops we are growing. We are even growing tomatoes and potatoes and radishes,” he says enthusiastically. “Now I can farm to feed my family and supplement my income. We are self-sufficient again. And I am home.”
Last updated: January 08, 2014