Irrigation Canal Improves Licit Cultivation in Jawzjan

Farmers have been struggling with the lack of water for crops irrigation in Sheberghan city of Jawzjan. The climate is not favorable for rain-fed agriculture as the temperature and precipitation are low in winter and high in summer. To add to that, there is virtually no rainfall. Snow stored in the Hindu Kush mountains during winter melts in spring and provides irrigation water in early summer. The traditional irrigation system called the “Mirab system” is commonly used by farmers but does not work well. With this system, farmers are not able to manage the distribution of water, and operation and maintenance of the canal appropriately.

Sheberghan’s irrigation water comes from Sar-e-pul river through Salmazan irrigation canal. The canal, constructed with mud, serves 11 villages and irrigates approximately 12,000 jeribs of agricultural land, benefitting 1,724 households. In spring, when water levels increase, the sides of the canal get destroyed and famers faced water shortage. The bed of the canal was muddy, causing a huge amount of water to be absorbed, meaning that downstream water users did not get enough water.  On top of these issues, unequal distribution of upstream and downstream water had led to social conflict within the communities.

In November 2020, UNODC through its Alternative Development (AD) programme, supported ACTED to Salmazan irrigation call by constructing 477 m protection wall and 25 m canal to improve irrigation within the target communities. Rehabilitating the Salmazan canal, lead to increased access to irrigation water and reduction in water absorption. Now, both upstream and downstream users have equal access to irrigation water. Additionally, the canal enables farmers to cultivate more than one crop per season and will therefore be able to increase their income from licit cultivation.

Social contracts were signed by farmers and community elders detailing that the beneficiaries and communities receiving programme support will not engage in poppy cultivation, production, processing, and trafficking.

UNODC Country Office for Afghanistan thanks the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) for its consistent financial support to the Alternative Development programme in Afghanistan.


Photo 1: Salmazan canal in Jawzjan province rehabilitated under BADILL


Photo 2: Salmazan canal in Jawzjan province rehabilitated under BADILL