UN-funded project to irrigate thousands of hectares of land in Takhar

By Muhammad Qasem

Local residents, many of them farmers, work to build an irrigation canal in the Joy-e-Sheikh area in Taloqan, capital of Takhar province, funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). [Courtesy of Hashmat Nikzad]

Local residents, many of them farmers, work to build an irrigation canal in the Joy-e-Sheikh area in Taloqan, capital of Takhar province, funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). [Courtesy of Hashmat Nikzad]

TAKHAR -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a 700-metre-long irrigation canal gabion reinforcement project in Takhar province that is employing almost 200 local residents and will irrigate thousands of hectares of land once completed.

Floods have destroyed the irrigation canal, which means water has not been able to reach agricultural lands on time, according to Sibghatullah Qani, director of the Taloqan Water Basin.

The FAO launched the project, which is expected to cost $400,000, to remedy those problems, he told Salaam Times on February 20.

Construction work began January 30 and is expected to be completed by June, he said.

"The project covers gabion fortification of a 700-metre-long irrigation canal in the Joy-e-Sheikh area in Taloqan, the provincial capital, which gets damaged by floods every year," he said.

"With the completion of this project, about 460 hectares of land will be irrigated while hundreds of hectares of land will be protected from the danger of floods," he said.

"In addition to the benefit of irrigation water reaching farmers, jobs were created for 200 unemployed people who are paid in return for their work," Qani said.

One of the priorities is to address water shortages, said Taqi Hamidi, regional director of the FAO in Takhar province.

"The objectives of the project are to create jobs ... and it has long-term benefits including restoration of hundreds of hectares of destroyed agricultural lands," he said.

The irrigation canal in the Joy-e-Sheikh area was being destroyed by floods every year, but "now it will be fortified using gabions, thanks to the project," he said.

Reducing flood risks

Farmers in the area could harvest their lands only one season each year because the canal was destroyed, said Rohullah Faqirzada, 43, a farmer in Taloqan.

"The Joy-e-Sheikh canal lies near the Taloqan river. Every time there is a flood, it destroys our canal," he said.

"Unfortunately, thousands of hectares of farmers' land did not have irrigation water, but now we are glad that work on the fortification of our canal has started and that we will have a canal and irrigation water in four months," he said.

"Another advantage of the project is that it prevents the further destruction of agricultural lands,"' he said. "Since the canal was destroyed and water could not be managed properly, floods would damage agricultural lands."

"I am very happy that I am working on the project and building [our] canal with my own hands," said Sakhi Mohammad, 54, another farmer from Taloqan.

"Like me, most of the farmers are working on the project, which helps ensure the quality of the project and allows them to earn a halal living," he said.

"The project is very valuable to us because we earn money by working on the project and our agricultural lands will be protected from floods and seasonal rising water levels," he added.

Critical international aid

Poverty and unemployment have increased in the country, leaving most Afghans dependent on international aid, said Naseer Ahmad Safi, a tribal elder in Taloqan.

"UN-supported projects like this one have saved many households from poverty," he said. "Such projects are critical in the current situation as poverty and economic problems are at their peak."

"In addition to such projects, some aid agencies have been providing assistance to thousands of impoverished families in the districts and provincial capital of Takhar," he said. "Such assistance makes [residents] hopeful about their lives and the future."

"If such assistance had not been provided in the current situation, many families would have faced the risk of famine and hunger since poverty has significantly increased," Safi said.

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Now this is good news. The international community should carry out this kind of fundamental reconstruction in Afghanistan. On one hand, they may provide job opportunities for the people and on the other hand, they may irrigate millions jerib of fertile land. In addition, if the government and the international community jointly create water reserves, it will play a very important role in ending the drought.


I read the news. The picture in the news made me happy and sad. I was saddened to see a weak older adult pulling mud out of the canal with a shovel. From this, it is known that this grandpa was also forced to work due to family problems, but I am happy that he has been provided with a job and is earning a halal income for his children. Afghans are very sad. For the last 40 years, they have faced all kinds of problems and are still struggling with them.


Thank you for your good news/report. I will also give you some good news. In Helmand, the Dakar organization has started surveys of many ponds to control the rainwater. Officials of the Taliban administration for Helmand's Department of Agriculture said that the mentioned ponds include the ponds of the Shoraki neighborhood in the Registan area, which have a high-level ability to control the rainwater. The source adds, "these ponds are being rebuilt after several decades, and with their restoration, rainwater and underground water will increase in the mentioned areas and will lead to the strengthening of agriculture and livestock." According to the officials of Helmand, before this, Akhund and Hassan Neeka's ponds were restored in this province. The sources did not give further details about the survey. We are very grateful to Dakar, WFP, UNDP, and all other organizations helping to save and rebuild Afghanistan from drought. May there always be friendship between Afghanistan and the world community?


I enjoy reading such news. Any money spent on such projects makes a person happy and feels good. May the news of the country's development be great and numerous. On one side, the people will be given job opportunities; on the other, the water will be prevented so that they don't cause damage. This will lessen the drought, and people will have a happy life. :)


The United Nations always provides humanitarian aids in Afghanistan. The United Nations, compared to the other countries in the world that need humanitarian aid, has provided and continues to help Afghanistan in every sector. During the 18 months that the government of the republic has fallen and the people of Afghanistan are facing many economic problems, the United Nations has provided basic financial, vital and humanitarian aid to the poor people of Afghanistan in every sector. In the current year, many vital projects have been undertaken or started by the United Nations in different provinces of Afghanistan. All the work of the United Nations is appreciable and we, the people of Afghanistan, must express our gratitude for the efforts of this United Nations. With the completion of the irrigation canal in Takhar province, farmers can grow two seasons of crops on their agricultural lands, and their agricultural lands can be prevented from the floods of the summer season, which destroy their lands. In this project, approximately 200 people are involved in working in exchange for monthly income, and these 200 people can find food for their children from this monthly income. These projects are vital for Afghanistan and these projects will make Afghanistan vital. Afghan people warmly welcome these programs of the United Nations. And we ask the United Nations to launch as many projects as possible in Afghanistan, because the people of Afghanistan have a great need for vital United