KUNDUZ -- Two newly constructed canals in Khulm district of Samangan province are providing much needed water to the area, say local authorities.
Construction of the canals has resolved water shortage problems for 3,000 hectares of land, according to Abdul Qodus Radmard, an official at the Department of Khulm River Basin in Samangan province.
The Programme Implementation Unit of the Northern Zone at the Ministry of Energy and Water managed the construction of the two canals, which were turned over to the public on December 29, 2021.
The canals were built with 102.1 million AFN funded by the World Bank.
"The first canal, constructed in the Qachar area of Khulm district, is 1,560 metres long, 2.5 metres wide, and 1.5 metres high," Radmard told Salaam Times on January 13.
"Iron gates have been installed in the canal to regulate the flow of water and prevent flooding."
The second canal, constructed in the Chuchaman area of the Khulm district, is 1,769 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres high, also with iron gates, he said.
Addressing flooding risks
Due to their traditional construction, the old canals would get damaged every year during wet seasons, locals said.
But with the standard construction of the new canals, lands are safer and properly irrigated.
Abdul Waheed, 48, a farmer in Khulm district, said he and other locals had been struggling with this problem for several years and that farmers could not easily grow wheat or rice on their land.
"We are happy now that our canal has been constructed properly," he said. "Farmers are now eager to grow wheat and rice and will have good yields, God willing."
"I have two hectares of land, but after my farms were damaged by flooding for four consecutive years, I decided not to cultivate my lands anymore," said Sayed Rasool Hashimi, a farmer in Khulm district.
The old canal could not could not withstand floodwater pressure and would be damaged with each flood, destroying the farms, he said.
Now that our main issue is taken care of and our canal can withstand floods, water is flowing in the canal and we can cultivate our land, he said.
Water for drinking
The new water canals are also providing more than 2,000 families with closer access to water.
"These families used to carry water on donkeys from wells or from the river, which was five to 10kms away from their homes," said Mohammad Asif Tanweer, a local elder in Khulm district.
"Residents of Shahikhail, Chehl Dozd, Ghaziabad, Khwaja Alghar, Khosh Toot, and other villages living close to the canal can now use water from the canals for drinking," he said.
"We call on the current government and aid agencies to dig deep wells and build water supply networks in this district so that drinking water shortages are permanently resolved," he said.
Sayed Farooq Akbari, a member of the Local Development Council in Samangan, said most Khulm district children have been drinking non-potable water and suffer from infectious diseases, especially diarrhea.
"Based on our information, about 15,000 families that are living in the Lalam area of Samangan province are faced with drinking water shortages," he said.
These families usually either travel a long distance to fetch drinking water from rivers and streams, he added.
"If clean drinking water is provided from deep wells through water-supply networks, then the spread of infectious diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid and cholera that are caused by unclean water would be prevented as well," Akbari said.