Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Afghanistan: Keeping Afghan villagers away from heroin production

UN - United Nations agencies have distributed 60 metric tons of food to 700 villagers in western Afghanistan in a programme designed to rehabilitate an irrigation canal that is the lifeline of Khosan district and stop locals from working in the heroin industry.

Though the district is considered poppy-free, drug trafficking remains a problem and those who cannot find work in Khosan, near the Iranian border, travel to Farah or Helmand, where they receive about 500 Afghanis a day for harvesting poppies, the raw material of opium and heroin. Some 90 per cent of the world’s heroin supply comes from Afghanistan.

At the request of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World UN Food Programme (WFP) has compensated the canal workers by distributing daily rations.

To ensure that the improvement lasts, UNODC has simultaneously planned an ambitious land-stabilization programme to counter the effect of the past years of drought and the ensuing deforestation as farmers cut the already meagre vegetation for cooking and animal fodder, aggravating the precarious condition of their environment. As a result, sand blew onto the fields and into the canal.

Three years will be needed for the stabilization and 40,000 saplings have already been planted. Meanwhile, 70,000 seeds have been sown on 2,000 square metres of land, to be transported to the desert once grown.

WFP also distributed food to those who planted the bushes and those who will be watering them during the coming year. The sapling bushes, selected for their resistance to drought, will grow and scatter their seeds to generate new vegetation.

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