Fixed Assets Turn Nomads Into Farmers

Pul-i-Alam residents, including Kuchi tribe members, work to restore damages sectionsof the Shahi canal.
Pul-i-Alam residents, including Kuchi tribe members, work to restore damages sectionsof the Shahi canal.
Repairs to the Shahi canal will help local Kuchi tribes to rebuild their livestock
USAID implemented a project to restore water flow along the Shahi canal, mitigating the droughts that have plagued local farmers, including members of the Kuchi community.
Among the Afghan tribes, the Kuchi people are famous as nomads, walking their livestock from lowland pastures along Afghanistan periphery, to highlands in the center of Afghanistan and back each year. However, the Kuchi people near Pul-i-Alam District in Logar Province are among the estimated 15 percent of tribe members who have broken this pattern by settling in a fixed place. Benefiting from a long-standing land grant, the Kuchi people in Pul-i-Alam diversified into farming. Over time, area farmland provided sufficient grain for livestock, enabling the Kuchi community to stabilize and expand.
This transition toward improved economic security suffered a reversal between 2000 and 2010, when flooding ruined the Shahi canal system that fed agricultural lands in Pul-i-Alam. Subsequent droughts destroyed crops of animal feed grain, affecting the community’s livestock. Some of the tribe members returned to their traditional nomadic routes, while others sold off their remaining livestock and focused on subsistence farming.
In an effort to help Pul-i-Alam’s Kuchi residents rebuild their community, Logar’s provincial and district governments partnered with USAID and its implementing partner, Central Asia Development Group, to restore the Shahi canal. By the end of the project, 769 men and 12 women had repaired more than 10.7 km of the canal. Repairs included the installation of 12 water gates and reconstruction of nine culverts.
The Kuchis have seen an immediate, positive impact on their community. "Every one of our families has purchased a cow or sheep," says Adel Gul, a Kuchi tribal member. "The cash-for-work payments are the first step. Later this year, we will begin to grow grain for animal feed again so that we can build up our livestock." Gul further asserts that the canal repairs will have a stabilizing effect on the community. "Within five years, we should have recovered our investments in the new livestock. We can then return to our traditions of giving a goat or cow as a wedding gift, or as a means of helping less fortunate family members. We may have settled and become farmers, but animals are still our savings for the future."

Last updated: January 12, 2015

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