Chayabak village sits nestled amongst the dramatic Hindu Kush mountains of rural Badakhshan, a province in the North East of Afghanistan. Despite contributing relatively little in terms of emissions to global warming, people living in Badakhshan are already facing the heavy consequences of the 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.

To reverse some of these consequences of climate change, we've been supporting farmers in Chayabak and surrounding villages to replant and effectively irrigate their local forests, thereby improving their access to clean water and protecting themselves from these increasingly frequent natural disasters.

Turning rural villages into green oases

In the past, people did not know the negative effects of destroying and damaging forests.

"People cut down and destroyed our forests," Beyg Mohammad Parsa (pictured, left) told us. The resulting floods "created valleys in the villages and really affected people."

Trees have long been casualties of extreme poverty and war in Afghanistan, with many people in remote areas having little choice but to cut down forests to build houses, fuel stoves and keep warm in winter. It is estimated that trees now cover just 1.5% of Afghanistan's land.

But forests play a vital role in keeping people and properties safe from flooding. The canopy cover offered by trees helps reduce the speed at which rainfall hits the ground, and their root systems help water penetrate deeper into the soil, resulting less surface run-off and so lowering the chances of flash floods. This means as the climate crisis intensifies, trees are a crucial tool for rural Afghan communities to become more resilient.

Beyg Mohammad was appointed the head of the Forest Management Association by his fellow villagers in Chayabak, a committee that now leads on reforestation efforts in the village. These associations support us to deliver training sessions to local people, ensuring that they understand why replanting trees are so important in reducing flooding. 

"Today we had a training session on natural disasters and learned that we should always try to prevent deforestation," a young mother who was part of the training told us, "the forests have many benefits for us and they prevent floods."

Employing local people

As part of these climate adaptation activities, we've also employed people from over 130 households in Badakhshan to build irrigation and flood protection infrastructure. In village just over from Chayabak, daily labourers have constructed a flood protection wall (pictured above, centre) to protect houses and land from water run off. Amidst the economic crisis seen in the wake of the Taliban takeover, this employment is critical.

The flood protection wall is almost 220 metres long and 30 daily labourers work on it. On the one hand, this solves their financial problems, and on the other hand, the wall prevents floods from damaging our houses and lands.

Thanks to the daily wage he received for participating in the construction of a water reservoir in Chayabak, some of Abdul Raseq's (pictured below) children have been able to start attending school.

"Previously, I was unemployed and there were no jobs available." Reflecting on the challenges of the last year, in which unemployment and food prices have skyrocketed, it was a relief for Abdul Raseq to find work in his village, "thank God, this job was provided for me and I found a purpose."

We've constructed six of these water reservoirs and two aqueducts to help irrigate forests and agricultural land in the area, helping saplings to grow and decreasing the destructive impacts of drought. These facilities also providing clean drinking water to entire communities.

"We now have a water reservoir and can access water so easily. In the past, it was very difficult to get water." Abdul Raseq's wife told us. Her daughters can safely drink the water without fear of contracting water-borne diseases.

Help us make a difference

With your help and led by local peoplewe can ensure more communities have the knowledge, infrastructure and resilience to tackle the complex challenges they face as the climate crisis intensifies. Stand alongside communities like Chayabak and donate today:

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