22 Jun 2007

PR# 2007-460

ISAF diversion dam brings water to families, farms

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Through a $1.5 million project launched earlier this year, ISAF’s Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team is using an unlikely weapon against insurgents—water from diversion dams.

The 30 dams will impact one in 10 Khowst residents directly and many more indirectly, said Cmdr. David Adams, Khowst PRT commander.

Abdulmer Khan Lamar, Khowst provincial director of irrigation said, “Each of the diversion dams, which take roughly six weeks to complete, has the capacity to irrigate 45,000 jerubs—or roughly 50,000 acres—of land.”

In approximately three weeks, the first of these dams will reach completion, according to Adams.  The dams will help local Afghans to better control flooding, irrigate their fields, grow crops and feed their families.

These dams will redirect water from rivers to the fields of more than 80,000 farmers and families, the official said.  The villagers have said the diversion dams will bring economic prosperity to the largely agricultural region. 

“We appreciate ISAF forces,” said Mumin Khan, Khowst farmer.  “We are poor people and they are helping us.” 

After more than 30 years of war, ineffective water use has made life more difficult in this barren country, according to an ISAF official. 

For farmers like Haji Mazdigar Gul managing water is life or death.  He said that without a diversion dam flooding often causes him to lose his fields, which in turn jeopardizes his family’s survival. His village of Koza Bokhana is one of 30 that will benefit from this project. 

The Khowst PRT provides the funding oversight necessary and empowers the local governments throughout Khowst to decide where and how the dams will be built, Adams said.  The Khowst PRT helps connect Afghans to their local government, which is the key to defeating the insurgency, he added.

The local governments are involved in every step of the process.  They select the building sites based on need, design the dams, monitor quality and ensure the safety of workers, Adams said.  The villagers also take ownership of the projects by completing initial excavation and closely monitoring the project to assure the highest quality.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/