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February 14, 12

NEWS / UN boosting assistance to rebuild Afghanistans irrigation network

14 February 2012 –
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is boosting its technical support to help rebuild Afghanistan’s dilapidated traditional irrigation systems, which have been neglected for decades owing to war and migration away from rural areas.

The lack of efficient irrigation facilities has left many farmers without sufficient water for agriculture, including the production of wheat, the country’s main staple food crop, according to a news release issued by FAO.

The Irrigation Restoration and Development Project seeks to help farmers increase crop production and improve the knowledge and skills that farmers need to run and maintain irrigation systems.

“The irrigation systems had suffered over the past three decades, not only because of a lack of investment, but also because people were moving away from the rural areas, leaving no one to maintain the systems or transfer indigenous skills to the younger generation,” said Pasquale Steduto, head of FAO’s Water Development and Management Unit.

“When there was a flood, for instance, there was no one to repair or clean up damaged canals or dams. So farmers in rural areas were not able to get enough water to cultivate their fields. As a result, they produced fewer crops,” he said.

The project builds on experience gained from FAO’s implementation of the World Bank’s Emergency Irrigation Rehabilitation Project, which was completed in December last year.

That emergency project strengthened the capacity of the project coordination unit within the Ministry of Energy and Water to plan and manage the rehabilitation of irrigation systems. The new six-year restoration and development project plans to follow up by designing and developing small storage dams, in addition to rehabilitating irrigation systems.

It will also complete development of hydro-meteorological networks and services to monitor weather conditions, water flow and water quality issues, and will include training in operation and maintenance of the networks.

FAO says that the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes around the country is expected to cover a total irrigated area of about 300,000 hectares, increase irrigated areas by about 15 per cent, lead to an increase in the crop yield of around 20 per cent, and benefit around 230,000 households.




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