Newly constructed Irrigation Channel empowers people in FATA

In November 2009, many local residents of Tehsil Sararogha in South Waziristan Agency left their hometown due to the military operation that was underway against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Many families sought shelter in districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. 

Starting point of Baghariwam irrigation channel before rehabilitation

In the summer of 2013, the displaced residents felt safe and confident to begin returning home. However, things back home were far from normal. The basic infrastructure was in ruins and severely damaged.  “Our houses were destroyed, cattle were missing and our fields had turned to ruins,” said Mr. Mahnoor Khan, the president of community organization in Baghariwam village, South Waziristan.

Agriculture and farming is the main source of livelihoods for many families of Baghriwam village. The community was left with little resources and support to revive farming.  

In response to such widespread damage, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the FATA Transition and Recovery Program is supporting the Community Resilience Unit of the FATA Secretariat to rehabilitate the basic community infrastructure. Community members are trained and empowered to identify and prioritize the infrastructure they would like to see rehabilitated, and then involved in the implementation and monitoring of the rehabilitation work. 

Baghariwam irrigation channel during construction

Following this participatory strategy, UNDP has supported the rehabilitation of a 3,273 feet irrigation channel identified by the community members of Baghariwam village. The community members were employed as daily wage labour in the construction of the irrigation channel which not only helped to create short term employment to set them back on their feet, but also created a sense of responsibility and ownership among the community members. The channel was completed at the cost of PKR 1.56 million, irrigating 54 acres of land and benefiting around 144 families.

The community expects a bumper crop this year, as the newly constructed irrigation channel transports a fast flow of water to the tail end with minimum loss of water, reducing the time needed to irrigate every individual piece of cultivated land in a way that was unthinkable before.

Baghariwam irrigation channel after completion of rehabilitation work

Such interventions have a tangible positive impact on the lives of fragile returning communities.  As noted by Mr. Mahoor Khan (the president of CO) “The rehabilitation work of the irrigation channel by community members has increased social cohesion and resilience. The community is now able to irrigate their agricultural land efficiently with reduced water losses, leading to improved fodder and crop produce.”

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