Shallok village was left empty three years ago when heavy flash floods hit the area, washing away homes, livestock and belongings, forcing most families to escape and set up a new life elsewhere. For several years, mountains peeked into the sky in the distance but fields were left barren and houses deserted.

Last year, Afghanaid supported the construction of a flood protection wall in the area, offering the village a new beginning.

After the construction of an almost 500 metre-long wall, built to redirect water and protect the village from future floods, families started returning.

“We now have about 200 families in the village – almost exactly the number we had before,” explained 49-year-old Mohammed Rustan, one of the village elders who also helped build the wall.

“It’s not that people wanted to leave, but they weren’t given a choice. Many feared for their lives or had lost everything. Nature is stronger than we are and the floods kept coming.”

Bearing the brunt of a changing climate

Shallok is located in Afghanistan’s Samangan, a northern province near the Uzbek border. Despite contributing relatively little in terms of emission and greenhouse gases, people living here bear the heavy consequences of a changing climate. In recent years, both floods and droughts have intensified, making it difficult for farmers to rely on a harvest, while constantly fearing that their livelihoods will be taken away by the floods.

Once covered in trees, Samangan has also seen large-scale deforestation, mainly due to decades of war that forced people to use the wood for both building and heating in winter.

Replanting to rehabilitate 

We're working across Samangan to reduce the consequences of climate change, and help to restore ecosystems and enhance the environment by planting trees and plantations – both ongoing activities in the village of Shallok.

“The entire village helped building the wall last year,” Mohammed Rustan remembered. “This helped people gain both an income and contribute to making the village a safer place. We’re comfortable now. We finally feel like we’re living again. We’re planting and building; we’re celebrating our festivals, we’re happier.”

Mohammed Rustan is also a member of the water management committee, responsible for checking on the protection wall and reporting any damage to Afghanaid. He said he feels confident now: “the wall wasn’t cheap and it’s constructed with the best material. When the waters come, our village will be safe."

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