Shoveling Away Intimidation

Laborers clear the Khalach Canal, improving farming capacity in Hilmand’s Nawa District.
Laborers clear the Khalach Canal, improving farming capacity in Hilmand’s Nawa District.
USAID/CDP/CADG
Hilmand Province residents rehabilitate road and canal networks in Nawa District
18 NOVEMBER 2011 | HILMAND, AFGHANISTAN
 
In spite of intimidation and insurgent threats, USAID helped residents redevelop a sustainable agricultural supply chain by renovating roads and restoring farming capacity.
 
Today, lush, green farmland stretches as far as the eye can see on either side of Nawa’s Khalach Canal. Until recently, however, much of the rich soil in this Hilmand district suffered from poor irrigation and neglect. Splotches of dried brown earth replaced vibrant green crops in many areas, as the water flow from local canals was staunched by accumulated silt, overgrown reeds, and years of inadequate maintenance.
 
In an effort to restore farming capacity in Nawa, USAID, and its implementing partner Central Asian Development Group, partnered with 560 local laborers and foremen to rehabilitate 7 km of the canal. As a result of these efforts, wheat and maize are now growing with renewed vigor in 25 local villages.
 
In addition to their work on the canal, laborers also rehabilitated 4 km of roads in Nawa. What were once rutted dirt tracks – which varied from impassable mud during the flood season to obstacle-ridden hardscrabble during the summer months – are now finely leveled roads.
 
Redeveloping these key elements of the Nawa agricultural supply chain garnered significant local support, as well as some unwanted attention. Attacks were a constant concern on the Nawa project. Insurgents, with small arms fire, threatened laborers working on the canal. In spite of insurgent intimidation, the people of Nawa persevered and succeeded in their effort to renew local agricultural capacity and renovate the roads that would carry their products from farm to market.
 
The impact of the project will be felt for years. Improved farming and delivery capacity will increase production and access to markets, expanding income generation and long-term employment opportunities. For residents of poor farming communities, these are indeed welcome prospects.
 
The people of Nawa have shown remarkable courage and risen to the challenge of working to save their district despite the very real threat of insurgent violence. USAID is supporting their stand against intimidation and their effort to build a better future for their community.

Last updated: January 07, 2014

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