Rural families like Taj Muhammad’s are highly dependent on forests, rangelands, and rivers for resources such as food, water, fuel, medicine, construction materials, and fodder for livestock.

Up in the mountains most people are farmers like me. We grow things like wheat, almonds, apricots, apples and forage crops.

However, decades of conflict, natural disasters, and a lack of knowledge about the proper management of rangelands has resulted in the deterioration of the natural resource base, and increased disputes over these scarce resources.

“Before, we did not know about things like rotational grazing or why it was important. Over time, the majority of the rangeland had turned into rainfed land which eroded the soil. This meant we couldn’t grow as much, so we had to uproot the plants to use as fuel or fodder to feed our animals. As a result, floods and avalanches became much more frequent, and fertile soil was carried away by the flood and wind, meaning we were able to grow even less.

"Because we relied on what we could grow for an income, we also did not have enough money to buy some certified seed. Many families left this area in search of a better life elsewhere. I was starting to plan to do the same.”

Transforming communities through sustainable land management

Luckily, Taj Muhammad did not have to leave the place he calls home, as Afghanaid’s land management project came to support his community, using a multi-faceted approach to both revitalise the local environment, and create reliable food and income sources for residents. Taj Muhammad told us the changes he had witnessed had been “tremendous” since the start of this assistance: increasing the amount of saplings and vegetation coverage throughout the rangeland, and transforming water management, changing rural families’ approach to land management for generations to come.

As part of this project, Afghanaid contracted members of the community to help build water irrigation trenches, providing daily wages for many in the village, which supported Taj Muhammad’s family “in a very critical situation throughout COVID-19”.

These trenches have a myriad of benefits, including preventing soil degradation; absorbing and storing rainwater; and preventing avalanches and flooding, which have been increasing in number and severity in rural areas of Afghanistan in recent years. In addition, Afghanaid also provided Taj Muhammad, along with other members of his village, with almond saplings to create an orchard, which will ensure he has a source of food and income to enable him to provide for his family.

“I was not familiar with this work before, but now, through technical trainings, the awareness level of the community has risen and we now understand how to protect and maintain our natural resources and planted saplings... We now give a lot of importance to the vegetation and planted saplings, and most of time I am busy protecting my saplings and cleaning my trenches."

With food insecurity soaring across the country due to this year's harsh drought and economic collapse seen in the wake of the Taliban takeover, a stable source of income has never been more of a lifeline for families like Taj Muhammad's.

Now, with a steady source of income, Taj Muhammad’s orchard will grow from strength to strength thanks to the communities’ new sustainable land management practices. “Recently my almond saplings have produced almonds... Inshallah in the upcoming years I will have good income and the best livelihood in my village."

Afghanaid have done a very good job, we are really satisfied with this project. I thank Afghanaid from the bottom of my heart.

How can you help?

Recognising the multiple, overlapping challenges facing people like Taj Muhammad, our teams have been providing at-risk families with emergency assistance to help them feed their families now, as well as the support they need to tackle the compounding effects of the climate crisis whilst strengthening their livelihoods.

Led by local people, we're building a more resilient future for Afghanistan, in which families have a reliable source of food and income, as well as the knowledge and wherewithal to protect themselves and the environment.

We need your help to reach more people like Taj Muhammad. With just a bit of support, we can ensure families like his can build their resilience to future crises. Donate today and help Afghans feed their families, gain autonomy and build a stronger, more prosperous tomorrow:

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