In parts of Afghanistan like the Ghor Province, where more than 80 percent of its population rely on agriculture and livestock to survive, a drought can be devastating. IRIN News reports on programs by Catholic Relief Services and others to help Ghor residents overcome the drought’s impact:
KABUL, 22 April 2014 (IRIN) – Last year, Afghanistan’s Ghor Province lost thousands of its inhabitants. Many fled due to conflict, but others fled due to a more subtle threat: drought.
An estimated three-quarters of the population was affected when rain-fed crop harvests were destroyed due to the dry spell (and flash floods) that hit during the planting season, according to the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)….
Potatoes are a main commodity in Ghor, with roughly 80 percent of farming families dependent on the staple for food and income. In two of Ghor’s key IDP-producing districts, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) implemented a two-year Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project focusing on the crop.
Traditionally, to store their potatoes, farmers dug holes in the ground, loosely stacked the potatoes, and then covered them in dirt. According to CRS, these poorly ventilated potato pits incurred losses of around 40 percent.
Using low cost material such as pipes and wood, CRS added ventilation ducts to the traditional pits, allowing air to flow more freely, thus preventing mould and spoiled potatoes. Beneficiary farmers constructed 13 modified demonstration pits in different villages. Communities were then shown other local materials available to them when replicating their own pit.
According to CRS assessments, the farmers greatly reduced winter losses; increased harvest due to the distribution of improved seeds and produced enough yield to feed their families. Half reported excess crop, which they in turn sold in the local market.
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