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Drought: Kandahar farmers fear ‘catastrophic situation’

12 Jul 2018 Pajhwok Afghan News

KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The humanitarian situation in southern Kandahar province could turn ‘catastrophic’ if wastage of water is not stopped in the drought-province, residents and officials say

Although the entire country has been suffering from drought but the situation in Kandahar is worse.

The water level in Dahla Dam of Kandahar -- the only irrigation source in seven districts of the province --- has decreased by a half, with underground water level plummeting tens of meters deep in most parts of the country.

The situation has affected orchards and crops in Kandahar where people say this year the drought engulfed the entire province.

“If the situation persists, and wastage of water is not prevented, the worse is to come,” said Mohibullah, a resident of Loya Wyalai area of Kandahar City.

He told Pajhwok Afghan News the underground water level had declined by tens of metres in parts of the city, compelling residents to dig deep wells.

In the past, people said underground water was 50 metres deep, but now it was found 150 metres deep in the ground.

This year, crops and orchards received little water because the shortage of water in Dahla Dam, which irrigates crops in the province.

Mohibullah asked the government to construct small dams for preserving water and releasing it in the time of need.

He also demanded the government overhaul the old irrigation system in Afghanistan because the old system caused more water wastage.

Farmers in Maiwand district said the shortage of water had badly affected their orchards and crops already affected by drought.

Akhar Mohammad, a farmer in Maiwand district, said in the past they fetched water from natural streams to irrigate their agriculture fields but the streams had dried up due to the dry spell.

Most of the farmers say they have dug wells to irrigate their farms but this year the underground water also declined.

Sayed Hafizullah Sayedi, Kandahar agriculture director, told Pajhwok that the drought had affected the entire country but Kandahar in particular.

He said only 75 millimeters rain fell in Kandahar this year --- much below the required at least 400 to 500 millimeters a year.

“The shortage of rainfall lowered water level in Kandahar while 35,000 hectares of farmland in northern areas of the province stayed out of cultivation”, he added.

The drought has hit hard Registan district where people have left their homes and livestock reduced by 60 percent, he said.

Eng. Wahidullah Kamran, in charge for Arghandab basin in Kandahar, said that the level of water in Dahla Dam reduced by 50 percent this year due to shortage of rainfall.

He said the dam’s water was also released late for irrigation this year for being insufficient.

Kandahar governor Zalmai Wesa also said the drought was a serious issue in the province and the government could help alleviate its impact.

He said people could plunge into a humanitarian-like situation and many would be forced to displace in few years if water was not saved.

However, he asked journalists and civil society activists to join hands and launch campaigns for proper use of water.

The underground water went down due to arbitrary deep wells used for irrigation, a process that should be stopped, Wesa said.

He said he still remembered water was only five meters deep in Kandahar but now it had gone 50 and in some areas 150 meters deep.

A number of Afghan Facebook users have also launched campaigns for saving and proper use of water.

Many users wrote on their social media page that arbitrary wells drained the underground water.

UNICEF has recently said drought affected lives of around a million people including half of them children in Afghanistan.

It had warned that the number of people affected by drought would increase to two million in 22 provinces of the country.

nh/mds/ma

Original Link: https://www.pajhwok.com/en/2018/07/12/drought-kandahar-farmers-fear-%E2%80%98catastrophic-situation%E2%80%99

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