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In Afghanistan, A Wall Provides Protection And Hope

Laborers, building a retaining wall near Mehtarlam, the provincial capital of eastern Laghman province. Photo: WFP/Wahidullah Amani

A simple retaining wall is giving villagers who have lived under the threat of flooding for years optimism for a safer future – and irrigation water for their fields.

Floods are a common occurrence in eastern Laghman province in Afghanistan. In the summer of 2013, more than 200 families had to leave their houses in Shinkhil villages to flee the waters. Some of them moved to other villages, some to neighbouring Jalalabad city, and some even far away to Kabul. Now, a retaining wall built through a WFP-supported food-for-assets project will protect their villages from future floods.

Hamisha Gul is the head labourer of a project to build a 228-metre retaining wall near Mehterlam, the provincial capital of eastern Laghman province. “This wall will not only protect our houses, lands and gardens against floods,” he explains.  “Also with this, our agriculture lands will find irrigation water and our gardens will be safe from dryness.”

Hamisha has been leading a team of 112 local villagers for three months to build the wall, which will protect eight to ten villages from floodwaters. The team works for three to four hours per day, and workers receive a WFP ration of wheat, pulses, vegetable oil and salt for their efforts. WFP also provides the necessary construction materials.

Reza Khan and his family had to leave their house and move to a nearby village months ago when heavy floods hit their village. He has memories of many floods in the past years. “Water has washed away hundreds of acres of agriculture land, houses, a mosque and a local flour mill,” he recalls. Now he is optimistic. “Once this retaining wall is completed, I will come back to my village; our village will be protected and we won’t be afraid of heavy floods,” said Reza.
According to him, heavy floods have washed away hundreds of acres of agriculture land, houses, a mosque and a local flourmill in the past years.