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Afghanistan: ICRC repairs irrigation system

06-04-2000 News Release 00/12

The ICRC in Afghanistan has completed the cleaning of a five-kilometre-long irrigation canal, in a densely populated area of Parwan province, north of Kabul, that supplies tens of thousands of people.

The repair of the canal, which draws water from the Panjshir River, lasted three weeks and involved nearly 1,100 residents of surrounding villages, who were employed on a food-for-work basis and/or paid in cash by the ICRC.

The rehabilitation of Afghan irrigation systems such as canals and karezes (extensive traditional underground channels) is part of an ICRC five-point plan that targets areas to which refugees and internally displaced people have returned or are expected to return. The plan consists of a large-scale distribution of seed and seedlings for crops such as improved-quality wheat and potatoes and a range of fruit trees and vegetables; wide distribution of agricultural implements to complement the seed distribution; advice on caring for orchards and other crops; training for beneficiaries of the distribution in order to compensate for the steady drain of knowledge from these communities over the last 20 years; and the above-mentioned repair of canals, springs, wells, karezes and other means of irrigation.

In 1999, the ICRC worked with local communities to rehabilitate 166 canals and karezes , making it possible to irrigate over 60,000 hectares of land.