The labour intensive programme underway throughout the province is aimed at stabilizing living conditions of communities with vulnerable populations; encouraging participation in a variety of legitimate income generating activities through the quick disbursement of cash and other resources to targeted groups and at raising the quality of public infrastructure while fostering cooperation between the local, district, provincial and national government officials and the affected population. So far, there are 23 projects under the programme that will employ an estimated 10,000 skilled and unskilled labourers for a period of 50 days each. More projects, which will employ even more people, are in the pipeline with all due to finish by the end of the year.
In the capital of Badakhshan, Faizabad, one of the projects is improving irrigation for farmers. The city is located in a valley with great potential for agriculture, but most fields are rain-fed only due to poor irrigation systems. IOM engineers have designed an improved intake for the canal so the volume of water available for irrigation will increase substantially. This will allow more farmers to water their fields and to increase agricultural output.
This particular project got underway with more than 100 persons employed on a daily basis as skilled and unskilled labourers. The work includes cleaning the canal intake area, building stonemasonry walls to redirect and contain water and putting in place new escape gates. Joint monitoring to ensure high quality is carried out by the Irrigation Department and the Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (RRD).
Other projects include the rehabilitation or construction of water supplies, roads, bridges, schools and clinics. All projects are approved by a committee made up of representatives from the provincial department of the RRD, the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) which funds the programme, IOM and the Governor of Badakhshan.
It is hoped that this cash-for-public-works approach will eventually lead to long-term livelihood projects that can be an alternative to poppy cultivation. Badakhshan, one of the poorest provinces in an already impoverished country, is one of the largest poppy cultivation areas and a key smuggling route to other countries. If more funding is available, the current programme could be extended to other parts of Afghanistan.
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