Over 600,000 households have benefited from the World Bank (WB) Emergency Irrigation Rehabilitation Project (EIRP) that was conducted with the support and technical assistance of FAO’s Investment Centre. The project was established because of a need to rehabilitate Afghanistan’s agriculture sector, which had suffered greatly due to decades of political instability that heavily damaged basic irrigation infrastructure. Problems included irrigation systems that were running at 25% efficiency, where the norm of the region was 40-60%— leading to low agricultural productivity and high levels of food insecurity and poverty.
The EIRP was thus launched to improve and restore Afghanistan’s irrigation systems. The project was based on community involvement at all stages; specifically identification of key constraints to irrigation, community appointed water managers (know as mirabs) as well as the contribution of farm labourers in rebuilding irrigation infrastructure. After the rehabilitation of systems, farmers and mirabs were trained to proper operate and maintain them.
The project has had a countrywide positive impact on agriculture. Highlights include:
Increase in Agricultural Productivity: EIRP Monitoring and Evaluation conducted in late 2009 established that, on the average, productivity of staple crops, wheat, maize, onion, potato and cotton, increased by 68, 53%, 50%, 63% and 61% respectively as a result of rehabilitation and restoration works carried out on traditional irrigation schemes.
Rehabilitated Irrigable Land: EIRP has rehabilitated 665,152 hectares of irrigable land, 10.5% over the project target of 602,050.
Incremental Irrigated Area: The irrigated area for 638 rehabilitated schemes has increased by an average of 25% amounting to 183,767 hectares.
Reduction in Incidence of Water Disputes: Overall, water dispute incidents have reduced by 68% as a direct result of improved water availability and reliability facilitating equitable water sharing. This significant change in water dispute indicates that EIRP has also contributed to creating collaborative climate for social solidarity, stability and community cohesion among beneficiary farmers in the project areas by increasing water supply and improving water management.
Institutional and human capacity development: Rating improved from 29.4 % to 78% compared to baseline due to project intervention in the form of formal training, on-the-job training and institutionalization of project management systems.
Increase in Farm Income. On the average, beneficiary’s farm net income increased from 86% before project intervention to 145%.
Hydro stations installed: So far 105 hydrological stations have been installed in different locations on the five main river basins.
For further information about the FAO-supported WB project: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:22703437~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html