Afghanistan

Water Resources and Irrigation sector rehabilitation in Afghanistan

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FAO rehabilitates irrigation infrastructure and strengthens the water resources management
Kabul, 02 March 2003 -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) started three irrigation and water resources projects in three different zones of the country: east, south and west of Afghanistan. These projects, funded by the Governments of Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, aim to rehabilitate community-based irrigation and strengthen national institutions, specifically the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment.

Besides the impact of the recent drought, the traditional surface and underground irrigation, rain-fed areas and pastures have suffered extensive damage and destruction by direct and indirect impact of the war, rendering their rehabilitation beyond the present capacity of the communities. Emergency rehabilitation of traditional irrigation systems and securing water supply are required to restore agricultural production and potable water supply. Support is provided to the Afghan returnees to resume their livelihoods, and internally displaced people and refugees are encouraged to return to their home villages. The return of displaced farmers has increased the pressure on land and water resources, while water availability for agricultural purposes is becoming critical to support adequate rural livelihood.

Recently, the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Environment (MIWRE) and FAO strengthened their close collaboration and partnership in signing a Memorandum of Understanding. FAO has now the responsibilities to reinforce the provincial departments of the MIWRE in the eastern, southern and western zones. FAO will be providing equipment and training.

To-date, about 85 engineers and technicians from the Ministries and non-governmental organizations have been trained. Another 24 staff are undergoing longer-term training. Topics include irrigation water management, irrigation system rehabilitation, hydraulic design, usage of GPS, computer and English language skills, etc. In some provinces, the irrigation departments have been renewed. FAO has provided more than 1 000 manuals translated in local languages on various water resources subjects.

With funding from the Governments of Italy and the USA, FAO is currently assessing the conditions prevailing in the water resources and irrigation sub-sectors. The ongoing country-wide survey will also appraise the needs and identify priority irrigation projects.

Information on water resources, irrigation and water supply systems currently available is over 20 years old. Basic information is needed to estimate the scale of rehabilitation in water management and water supply schemes necessary to secure the recovery of agriculture and livestock production as well as the delivery of safe water for domestic purposes. The ongoing col=ADlection and analysis of water resources baseline data through reconnaissance and project identification surveys conducted under the technical supervision of FAO in Kabulis representing a fundamental source of information for other UN agencies, national and interna=ADtional NGOs, and for the Government.

For more information on FAO's activities in Afghanistanplease contact: Etienne Careme, Information Officer, FAO, Tel: 070.285054, Etienne.Careme@af.fao.org