IDEA-NEW has started phase two of a community constructed infrastructure project to protect 500 hectares of orchards from flooding in Khulm District of Balkh Province. Phase one, completed last winter, involved the construction of 975 meters of protection wall. Over the next three months, phase two will construct 550 meters long gabion protection walls on both sides of the Khulm River benefiting 500 families.
Laborers who learned gabion weaving under the first phase of the project last winter are now working under contract for this project. IDEA-NEW will buy 1,100 gabion boxes at 1,250 AFN per box and will place them on both sides of the river before the next flood season. This project will create 6,900 days of employment for local workers. The three month long project will inject US $99,362 in wages and purchase of gabions into the Khulm community, and will help to develop the gabion weaving skills of the community members.
Residents were happy when they saw that their work under Phase One of the project paid off by protecting orchards from heavy floods in Khulm District earlier this year.Abdul Khalil, one of the project’s team leaders, said that the gabions proved to be useful in protecting the orchards. According to Khalil, “We used to protect the riverbanks with bags of sand, but heavy floods would destroy them easily. This was the first year when I saw that the heaviest flood in the history of Khulm couldn’t damage the gabion walls.”
Khulm District of Balkh Province produces the world’s best Satar Bayee, Khairuddin Bayee and Abdul Wahidi almonds, as well as Afghanistan’s finest pomegranates. The orchards of this district were badly damaged by last year’s floods. The farmers whose lands were destroyed by previous floods are now encouraged to plant new orchards and again grow various kinds of fruits.
Through such projects, IDEA-NEW supports the local economy by providing job opportunities through cash for work, as well as providing long lasting protection of agriculture lands from seasonal flooding.