With unemployment posing a major challenge to Afghanistan’s youth, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development is trying to help. MRRD has created more than 1600 jobs in Baghlan province, in northern Afghanistan, with a project designed to clean up the Bala Dori canal.
The Bala Dori canal provides irrigation for thousands of acres of land in Pul-e-Khumri. It was blocked in the spring by floodwaters, and a two-month program has been planned to clear it.
Baghlan is an industrial and agricultural province that relies on hydroelectric power. But the major dam for the Pul-e-Khumri power station is not in good condition and needs repair. Some of the agricultural lands face water shortages during parts of the year, because the power station is not working properly; the dam also provides water for the Bala Dori canal.
The Ministry of Energy and Water is expected to repair the dam by next month, with the German government footing the bill.
Engineer Mobarak Shah, regional head of Rural Rehabilitation and Development for Baghlan said that the initial cost of cleaning the Bala Dori canal is 2,196,000 afghani (approximately $34,000.
According to Mubarak Shah, the project has created jobs for 100 professionals and 1500 laborers. The professional staff will be paid 1,000 afghani per day, while the laborers will receive 450 afghani per day.
Cleaning he canal will facilitate the irrigation of 12,000 acres of agricultural land, he added.
Haji Mohammad Zahir Ahmadzai, the head of the development council of Pul-e-Khumri, along with farmer Zar Mohammad ,emphasized that cleaning this canal will increase harvests.
Residents also hope that the new jobs will help keep more young people in Afghanistan, rather than risking their lives trying to get to Europe or other destinations.
Mohammad, 22, works as a laborer cleaning the canal. “I am happy to have at least a temporary job,” he said. “I will receive money for cleaning the canal, while on the other hand it will solve the irrigation issue for agricultural lands in Baghlan.”