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Irrigation canal saves 600 Afghan households

Afghanistan, March 22, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sayeed Farhad Zalmi/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The old water system in Ortabuz. Photo: Sayeed Farhad Zalmi/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Sayeed Farhad Zalmi/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The new 130 meter-long irrigation canal that Mercy Corps helped construct. Photo: Sayeed Farhad Zalmi/Mercy Corps

Ortabuz is a small village in the east of Afghanistan’s Takhar Province. At least 600 families are living in this small and green village. The people of Ortabuz are mostly farmers and each family have one or two jerib — about one-half to one full acre — of land for planting of crops. This is their only source of income.

The total agriculture land of Ortabuz is about 400 hectares, and they were irrigating their land in the traditional way. For more than 20 years, farmers were using empty big drums to get water to the croplands but, unfortunately, this system was damaged and leaking. The community used various kinds of glue materials to try and repair the drums, but it was not effective and — as a result — all 600 families in the area were deprived of water for both irrigation and drinking.

Mercy Corps was the only organization in the area to initiate and start the construction of a canal to solve this problem. The canal is about 130 meters long, and was built with a 20 percent resource contribution from the community. So far, the project has made big changes in the lives of local families in the district — and even the provincial government authorities participated in the inauguration of the project.

The result of this project is that people who during the past years could not properly irrigate even their first seasonal crops can now irrigate the first and second seasonal crops. Today, they're cultivating corn, beans and rice because they have enough water.