Drought Relief for Afghanistan’s Central Highlands

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

In 2011, severe drought in Bamyan and Wardak provinces caused massive losses for vulnerable families subsisting off the land. Families lost as much as half their harvests and one quarter of their livestock.

Since that time, families have been struggling to recover from such substantial losses. Their household debts have risen sharply, borrowing money to pay for food and provisions, and forcing family members to leave for work in other cities or countries.

With winter coming, Medair ran a special drought relief project from November 2012 to January 2013 with the support of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Foodgrain Bank and private donors. During that time, Medair provided 693 local residents with enough cash to buy food for their families to help survive the winter hunger gap. In exchange for these payments, the community members built hundreds of structures that will help protect the region from future droughts and floods.

In just two months, the community successfully built:

  • 1,301 check dams
  • 269 catch dams
  • 233 bunds
  • 6,629 metres of contour trenches
  • 4,212 square metres of terraces

These structures will improve ground infiltration, providing more water for agriculture during times of drought, and they will reduce water run-off and erosion during flash floods.

“Cash-for-work activities like this are some of the most rewarding relief projects because you know you are making an immediate impact, helping families survive the winter, while also supporting work that improves the land and reduces the risk of future disasters,” said Claire Skinner, Medair Country Director.

Medair also sought out the most vulnerable people who weren’t able to work on the project and gave them money to help survive the winter food gap—particularly women-headed households and/or elderly and disabled people.

“We hope you continue your activities and interventions in our communities in the future,” said Akram,* a Community Development Committee leader in Wardak province. “Your project, on the one hand, assists the people financially and on the other hand, it helps the development in our area.”

  • Names changed for security