FAO in Afghanistan

Construction of irrigation canal increases agricultural production in Guldara District

Construction of a water diversion dam for Asiab Shahi irrigation scheme in Guldara District of Kabul Province. ©FAO/Samiullah Patyal

Located in the north-western part of Kabul Province, Guldara District has had low levels of agricultural and livestock production in part due to lack of water for irrigation. In the past, residents in Asiab Shahi area of the district invested more than 100 000 Afghanis (around USD 1 125) and employed up to 100 labourers every year to construct gabion and sandbag barriers along the Guldara river to redirect the water flow into the traditionally built Asiab Shahi canal.

A significant amount of water continued to be wasted along the canal, leading to reduction of water flow, leaving downstream agricultural land uncultivated. This has led to increased levels of malnutrition in children, immigration in search of better life as well as an increase in the number of beggars.

On the request of the communities, who highlighted the dire need for maintaining and improving the irrigation infrastructure in the area, FAO, with funds from the Government of Japan, started the construction of the Asiab Shahi irrigation canal. This included the construction of a water diversion dam, an intake, riverbank protection walls and canal lining. The successful completion of the canal is largely attributed to close coordination with the communities.

The canal has transformed a previously unproductive area into a fertile land for agriculture, leading to higher crop production and income for the farmers.

“For so many years, the downstream agricultural land was not properly irrigated. There is sufficient water flowing in the canal now and the land is adequately irrigated. This has led to an improvement in crop production. Since the rehabilitation of this irrigation scheme, my wheat yield has increased from 1.05 tonnes to 1.75 tonnes per h,” said Hameedullah, a farmer from Asiab Shahi, talking about the reliable water supply available in the area because of the canal construction.

An additional 349 ha of land can now be irrigated after the rehabilitation of 2.5km canal, which culminates in 55 321 people in Guldara District reached. The rehabilitation of the canal generated roughly about 8 600 labour days of employment. At least 30 percent of the project cost went directly to the labour, each day of labour costing around USD 6.

FAO continues to address the worsening agriculture production emergency, without which the prospects for sustained improvement in food security for the population, including women, are bleak. It is supporting activities to increase access to water for irrigation, improve soil and water conservation, and build climate resilience. These activities will also generate short-term employment for unskilled workers, including opportunities dedicated to female unskilled labourers, in activities such as gabion weaving.