Briefing Note on Fieldwork in Kandahar Province, December 2015 – January 2016: Opium Poppy and Rural Livelihoods

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AREU’s latest briefing note on opium cultivation in Kandahar, “Briefing Note on Fieldwork in Kandahar Province, December 2015 – January 2016: Opium Poppy and Rural Livelihoods” by Paul Fishstein, illustrates the significant difference that factors such as geography, location, water/land resources and particularly local political conditions and history play on opium poppy cultivation.

The research conducted in Kandahar during the winter of 2015/2016 confirms findings from other areas in Afghanistan: those living in more secure areas with better access to markets are more likely to make the switch from cultivating opium poppy to farming licit crops.

When farmers did decide not to grow poppy, the decision was based on economic factors rather than government policy. However, most respondents reported better security and cooperation with or at least tolerance of the government.

Additionally, this research has identified two potential trouble areas: lower water tables, which require continual drilling of deeper wells; and continued migration into dasht, or desert, areas of the province where the government exerts little influence and poppy cultivation is widespread.

Many of these issues can be found in other areas of Afghanistan as well. A key recommendation found by this research is that the use of solar-powered water pumps could help to counter both of these potentially problematic trends.

About AREU

The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) is an independent research organisation based in Kabul. AREU’s mission is to inform and influence policy and practice through conducting high-quality, policy-relevant research and actively disseminating the results, and to promote a culture of research and learning. To achieve its mission AREU engages with policymakers, civil society, researchers, and students to promote their use of AREU’s research and its library, to strengthen their research capacity, and to create opportunities for analysis, reflection, and debate. AREU was established in 2002 by the assistance community working in Afghanistan.

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