Sustainable management of degraded watersheds in Afghanistan
Helvetas realised that the degradation in the watersheds responsible for the floods which threaten houses, agricultural land and infrastructure in the villages of Kahmard district must be reduced. Only improved management of the areas where runoff and erosion originate can solve the problem of floods in the long term; otherwise, the reservoirs created by the planned dams will get silted rapidly and land degradation will continue. Furthermore, improved management may regain the productivity potential of rapidly degrading and already degraded land in the water-sheds, thereby contributing to solve other major problems that concern the communities in Kahmard district. In view of predicted climatic changes (higher probability of heavy precipitation events and of prolonged dry spells), improved watershed management is all the more important to reduce the occurrence of floods on the one hand and to ensure more stable base flows on the other.
Considering this, Helvetas with support from ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) launched a community-based watershed management project focusing on short- and long-term solutions. Major emphasis within the project were laid on capacity building of Community Development Committees to manage the watersheds in a sustainable way by integrating conservation activities and approaches to improve livelihoods through people’s participation and collaboration among different institutional and social actors. The project was embedded in Helvetas' "Disaster Risk Mitigation" (DRM) project in Kahmard (Bamyan) and Tala-wa-Barfak (Bagh-lan) and linked to the "Improving Livelihoods of Rural Communities" (ILRC) project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC).