Sar-e-Pul residents work to rehabilitate water resources

By Muhammad Qasem

A new World Food Programme (WFP) project has created job opportunities for some 300 Sar-e-Pul residents in northern Afghanistan. The project was launched on October 2 and will continue for nine months. [Esmatullah Asem]

KUNDUZ -- Some 300 Sar-e-Pul residents have jobs for the next nine months as part of a project launched by local authorities in collaboration with the United Nations' (UN) World Food Programme (WFP).

The project was launched on October 2 and aims to rehabilitate and develop local water resources, according to Abdul Wahid Nabiyar, director of the Rural Rehabilitation Association for Sar-e-Pul province.

"Today we started the actual work on the excavation of small ponds and building canals in Surkhak and Qaragho villages of Sar-e-Pul," he said October 7.

"We pay each worker 7,000 AFN [$81] a month," he added.

In this photo taken on June 8, 2020, a boy collects water from a canal on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. The WFP launched a project October 2 to rehabilitate and develop local water resources in Sar-e-Pul. [Farshad Usyan/AFP]

In this photo taken on June 8, 2020, a boy collects water from a canal on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. The WFP launched a project October 2 to rehabilitate and develop local water resources in Sar-e-Pul. [Farshad Usyan/AFP]

Sar-e-Pul residents gather October 4 in the provincial capital to learn more about the employment project funded by the World Food Programme (WFP). [Sar-e-Pul Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock]

Sar-e-Pul residents gather October 4 in the provincial capital to learn more about the employment project funded by the World Food Programme (WFP). [Sar-e-Pul Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock]

"The main part of the project is building canals and digging small ponds in valleys to store rainwater to stop soil erosion and flooding," he said. "The project can also help improve underground water levels."

The WFP is funding the project to create employment opportunities, fight poverty and hunger in villages, and counter illegal migration, Nabiyar said.

"Severe rain and flooding ... used to damage residential houses, but with the implementation of this project, rain and flood water will be managed, controlling damage to homes," he said.

The project will soon create job opportunities for nearly 200 women and will also provide vocational training courses such as backyard gardening for them, Nabiyar said.

Fighting poverty and hunger

Poverty and hunger have significantly increased across Afghanistan over the past year, and participants of the rural rehabilitation project described it as a major step towards improving their lives.

They expressed their appreciation for the WFP for creating the project and said they are happy that they can earn an income while contributing to rebuilding their country.

Sar-e-Pul resident Abdul Salaam, 38, used to work as a daily labourer to earn a living for his family of five.

But after he lost his job, he said, his family has been on the brink of hunger.

"My economic woes kept increasing for more than a year," he said. "Every day I would return home empty-handed with no option to feed my family."

"Fortunately, I have been working on the canal excavation project for a week," Salaam said. "I get paid 7,000 AFN per month. I am happy now that I have a relatively long-term job."

Sahib Khan, 42, another Sar-e-Pul resident who is working on the project, said he too had faced major economic challenges in the past year, but is happy now that he has a job and an income.

"My economic situation was very bad," he said. "I had only enough money for one meal a day, and I went through a very tough time."

"I work daily from 8am to 4pm. Everyone who works with me is poor and used to be unemployed," he said. "This project helps everyone bring food to their tables."

"I like to be busy at work and be able to earn a legitimate living for my family," Khan said. "I hope I will be able to continue my work and build my country."

Appreciation for continued aid

Sar-e-Pul residents say international aid agencies have addressed the numerous needs of people who were facing hunger and unemployment.

"The UN and donor countries did not leave Afghans alone during very tough times and continued helping poor families through humanitarian assistance," said Shogufa Makhzoon, a resident of Sar-e-Pul.

The assistance is not provided only through food and cash distribution, but they have also helped thousands of people through the implementation of employment projects, she said.

"These organisations help vulnerable families through the provision of humanitarian assistance and have continued their aid in various other areas," she said.

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Thanks to WFP for their continuous and timely support to Afghans. If it was not for this organization, the situation in Afghanistan would have been very bad today. Water resources’ management is useful and necessary for Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we do not have industries and our people are mostly engaged in agriculture. Therefore, water management is very important. For decades, the water of our country has been going to Pakistan and Iran for free, and there is no enough water for irrigating our crops.


In fact, the focus should be on such projects. The priority should be to prevent hunger and support people who are suffering from food insecurity, but the benefits of this project are not limited only to filling people's stomachs. Seven thousand Afghani is a significant amount for low-income families in the rural areas. They can live a good life with this money and save some money if they want to. In the meantime, as cited in your report, constructing canals and ponds can increase an area's water level and prevent drought. This project could also be effective in agriculture because as long as the water level rises, people's farms will have more water. Thus, I think the World Food Organization and other organizations should prevent the free distribution of money and let people do such development activities in exchange for cash.


Thanks to WFP for its continuous and timely support of Afghans. If this organization was not there, the situation in Afghanistan would probably have been horrible today. With its timely measures, this organization has urgently taken care of Afghans in need and could receive grants. However, at the same time, I have noticed that the Taliban are constantly participating in the aid distribution process provided by international organizations. They pretend to the people that the Taliban administration has provided this aid and thus try to deliver a better image of themselves to people. I ask the aid organizations and their Afghan partners to dissuade the Taliban from using the international community's aid for their reputation. Thanks


Your opinion about WFP is correct, but it is not genius about the Taliban. Whether we accept it or not, today, the Taliban are the rulers of Afghanistan. The United States and other countries acknowledge this government or the system. It has two basic reasons. The first is that the Doha agreement confirmed that the previous government was not the inherit of the government system in Afghanistan. Thus, the Taliban were the group that the United States negotiated with instead of them and finally handed over power to them. Moreover, while I respect Dr. Ghani as a patriot who tried to rescue Afghanistan, the previous government was no more than a system of a few criminals, traitors, thieves, drug traffickers, and ethnic zealots. Otherwise, why couldn't they turn Afghanistan to a country not to be needy to others in twenty years? While all the criminals and supporters of the previous regime, including Amrullah Saleh, Danesh, Sayaf, Allah Gul Mujahid, Atta Mohammad Noor, General Dostum, Ahmad Zia Massoud, Zahir Qadeer, and etc. have managed a prosperous life for themselves in Turkey, UAE, and other countries, yet they want to encourage kids of the poor to fight against the Taliban. The best way is for both; the Taliban to show flexibility and give share in power to the ethnic and religious minorities and for the international community to recognize the new government; otherwise, Afghanistan will be ruined and destroyed more by other wars.


That's great. Water resources management is beneficial and necessary for Afghanistan. We do not have industries in Afghanistan, and our people depend mainly on agriculture. Therefore, water management is very important. There are examples of water management and non-management, such as rainwater, where a bucket is placed with the mouth upwards, and the water is collected. But if the mouth is down, the raindrops will fall on it, and it will go this way. So is Afghanistan's water. For decades, our country's water has gone to Pakistan and Iran for free, and there is not enough water to irrigate our crops. My opinion is that every village should dig small pits in their nearby deserts to collect water. If the rainwater is stored in these pits for three days, it will benefit the country. On the one hand, soil erosion is prevented, and on the other hand, half of the water enters the ground, which keeps the surface water regular, and the other half evaporates and goes up into the air, which stops more rain. If the United Nations, America, Europe, or any other country helps Afghans in this regard, we should support them. I thank him.


In Sarpul, this series started with the cooperation of international organizations; however, recently, in some provinces, people started working on water storage dams at their expense. Those who spend it from their pockets are courageous people. They have realized that water management is important, and if it is not done after a few years, God forbid, they will face a severe drought. So it is a good thing if it is done at personal expense or if the institutions do it, but it is better if there is an opportunity to work and be busy and water is controlled so that we would not face drought in the coming years. Yes, there is one thing if water decreases here in Afghanistan, it will have a bad effect on the environment. For this reason, it would be better if the world would agree with us and not allow us to be harmed due to our dirty environment.


The problem has also been created by the world's superpowers and industrialized countries. Our country does not harm them, but we are very severely affected by their industrial affairs. China and India, which are countries close to us, burn a large amount of coal daily, polluting the environment. Even in our neighborhood, the shameful Pakistan, which on the one hand calls itself a nuclear power, is in debt to every country, and every financial institution in the world is destroying the environment with its uncontrolled factories. One of the significant causes of droughts in our country is these countries. Of course, water management will indeed save us from many problems. If the Qosh Tepa canal works in the north and the power dam on the Kunar River in the east, and the deserts are irrigated, we will get rid of many problems. If Allah is willing