The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Government of Japan has launched a four–year project that aims to increase the amount of irrigated land, boost local food production and strengthen the food security and livelihood resilience of more than 12 600 vulnerable people in the Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan.
Over 650 000 people have benefitted from this project
Facilitated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the $9.5 million project will also provide direct environmental benefits to local communities, helping to protect fragile rangelands and recharge vital groundwater resources, which are particularly important in the context of the increasing impacts of the climate change.
The project will rehabilitate the existing Nurgal irrigation canal in Kunar province, improving both the quantity and reliability of irrigation water for agricultural production and increasing the total command area – the agricultural land irrigated by the canal – by 70 hectares to a total of 643 hectares, leading to both increases in overall agricultural production and increases in productivity of at least 12 percent. Importantly, the project will enable poor food insecure rural households to plant two crops a year, rather than just a single wheat crop, boosting incomes, resilience and food security.
The project will also deliver benefits to communities, helping to protect more than 2 000 hectares of fragile rangelands through improved and adapted plant varieties. The project builds on and enhances the Green Ground Project initiated in 2003 by Tetsu Nakamura and Peace (Japan) Medical Services (PMS) to build irrigation systems in the Kunar River Basin. By 2023, the PMS project has transformed 23 800 hectares of abandoned arid farmlands back to green fields. Over 650 000 people have benefitted from this.
Optimizing irrigation infrastructure to enhance food security
The project will focus on sustaining functional irrigation facilities, encompassing intake weirs, control gates, cross-drainage structures, culverts, dividers, supper passages, sediment pond structures, regulating gates, and restoration of secondary/tertiary canals in line with the ‘PMS Method Irrigation Project Guidelines’.
As an integral component of the project, the watershed management and rainwater harvesting activities will focus on the flood management and the mitigation of rapid rainwater flows in catchment areas. These efforts will involve the planting adaptable plants, construction of water ponds, check-dams, and other measures for effective rainwater harvesting.
FAO’s work in in Afghanistan
FAO is dedicated to enhancing resilience in all 34 provinces of the country, strengthening efforts to preserve and revive agricultural livelihoods and local ecosystems. These efforts include improving the production of nutritious foods, increasing cash incomes, and safeguarding the critical agriculture sector including the revitalization of rural markets and the economy.