The Kandahar Food Zone (KFZ) program in Afghanistan addressed the drivers of poppy cultivation in target districts of Kandahar Province by rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure, expanding alternative livelihood opportunities, supporting small businesses and helping the Ministry of Counter Narcotics design effective alternative development policies.
To improve agricultural infrastructure, Blumont rehabilitated 425 kilometers of 34 irrigation canals in the Panjwayi and Zhari districts of Kandahar province, reaching over 38,000 hectares of agricultural land. These improvements benefited 2,000 farms and more than 35,000 households. In addition, the rehabilitation projects provided 1,500 local jobs.
Blumont implemented several alternative livelihood initiatives through the KFZ program which included the establishment of 47 greenhouses in seven districts; pre- and post-harvest and marketing training in seven districts; solar drying for fruits and vegetables in five districts; vegetable production and processing jobs for women in five districts; vocational mechanical maintenance training in six districts; and vocational training in masonry in three districts.
To grow this effort, Blumont conducted capacity building training for its partner staff in the areas of Community-Based Planning to Support Alternatives to Poppy Cultivation (CBPSA-PC), Gender, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and legal framework (strategy and policy). Over 350 government officials were trained with a total of 64 training days provided. Blumont also facilitated more than 100 CBPSA-PC sessions which allowed community members to discuss their needs and grievances, improving citizen’s attitude toward their government. By improving citizens’ perception of their government’s legitimacy and services to rural communities, these meetings supported a key element of counter-insurgency strategies.
The final aspect of KFZ was Shamal, a central IT system that combined field data with satellite imagery and statistical analysis to identify program needs, plan and monitor activities, and evaluate impacts. Shamal captured and processed informational needs for program staff and donors through the following functional modules: GIS and associated application; document management; project management; reporting dashboards; data management engine; field data collection; and a training resource portal. These modules allowed for interaction with varied data sets in a collaborative environment with USAID, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and other donors and partners.