CHALLENGE Badghis Province is one of Afghanistan’s most remote areas. The agriculture-based economy
Increased water flow has rejuvenated agriculture in the Bala Murghab river valley. The renovation of two key canals has raised irrigation and crop yields.
thrives because of the Bala Murghab River and the vital irrigation water that is drawn from it. However, irrigation canals require cleaning and maintenance. Across the Bala Murghab District, many of the canals were silted over and water flow had been choked off. Crop yields were dropping, limiting the amount and variety of fresh food in the local markets. And with the decreased agricultural activities, fewer people were hired during the harvest season, raising an already high unemployment rate.
INITIATIVE Working with local community leaders and government officials, USAID, and its implementing partner Central Asia Development Group, determined that the flow of water back into local farms would significantly increase by cleaning two main irrigation canals. Project managers and local community leaders settled on a work plan that would clean the 25 km Akazai canal, the 30 km Joi Ganj canal, and the smaller canals that branch off from it. The project was designed to employ more than 2,100 workers, providing vital income that would positively affect thousands of local residents. The increased water supply would benefit 12 villages in the immediate area, increasing seasonal employment and boosting crop yields. The project was also designed to train local farmers how to maintain and manage the canals.
RESULTS The 60-day project began implementation before the spring planting and summer harvest seasons. This massive project employed 3,018 workers who not only cleaned the canals, but also reconstructed retaining walls, repaired 14 water dividers, replaced water control gates along the canals, and reconstructed four aqueducts.
The results were immediate and dramatic, with farmers getting an increased flow of water. Across the district, farmers reported that irrigation had greatly improved and that they were able to plant more crops in their fields. Before the renovation, both canals had the capacity to irrigate 2,400 ha of land, which expanded to an estimated 4,800 ha after the project. The higher crop yields means more food and employment for farm workers, proof that water is indeed life in Bala Murghab.
Double Irrigation Brings Double-Crop