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Natural Resources Base Development Plan For The Reconstruction And Rehabilitation of The War Ravaged Afghanistan

Dr. Narpat Singh Rathore
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
M.L.Sukhadia University, Udaipur – 313001 (Raj.) India
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: + 91 294 426548
Fax: + 91 294 415200

Study Area :-
The study area lies between 290 to 390 N latitudes and 610 to 720 E longitudes (Fig.1). The Afghanistan occupies a strategic position in Asia with its borders touching Pakistan in the south and south – east, Iran in the West, China, Tibet and Pak-occupied Indian Kashmir in the East, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north. The Afghanistan has a total area of about 6.83 lakh sq. Kms.. The country has nearly 9195Kms. of border but has no sea coast. It is a country of rugged mountains and semi-desert plains with an extreme plateau type of climate. The main range of Hindu-kush rises to more than 6000 metres in the northern. The central backbone effectively divides Afghanistan into three major regions. The Helmand river is the longest (1007 Kms.) and significant to Afghanistan.

Physical Features: –
Afghanistan is occupied by lofty mountains and elevated plateaus, plains, rivers, desert lakes etc. (Fig. 2). It may be divided into six distinguished physiographic regions: (1) Afghan Turkistan, or Bacteria (2) Hindu Kush constitutes a mountain complex (3) Badakhshan occupies the north-east of Afghanistan. (4) Kabulistan is a convenient name for the series of alluvial plains, which occupy the region round the capital, south of the Hindu Kush. (5) Hazara is mountainous region. (6) Desert is located in the west and south west part of Afghanistan.

Research Methodology and Data Base:-
A detailed inventory of natural resources along with the socio-economic condition is a pre requisite to achieve target oriented goals for development in general and developmental planning at village level in particular. To this an attempt is made to follow a standardised methodological framework. Multi dates Satellite imageries of IRS-1C, Landsat, NOVA & IKONOS for the years of 1999 to 2001 on 1:250,000 scale was used. Visual interpretation techniques were applied for preparation of development plan for Afghanistan. The old topographical sheets on 1:250,000 scale and maps were also used for this study.

Development plan for Afghanistan: –
Unfortunately, however, due to war most of Afghanistan’s mountains have become almost degraded hill systems of the world. The immediate need for hill area development programme is there so that the rural people can get employment. A massive disorder in the

FIG. 1 Location Map of Afghanistan

availability of even the basic resources like fuel, fodder and timber has taken place. It is therefore, essential that a comprehensive strategy for the management and development of the environment and physical resources of the Afghan region is evolved and implemented without any further loss of time. For future development plan of war ravaged Afghanistan can be take up as given below:-

Hill Area Development Programme :-
The hill area development programme could be based on the promotion of secure, basic life-support system, and judicious utilisation of land, minerals, water and biotic resources keeping in view the interests of both the hills and plains of Afghanistan. The whole strategy would centre around the active participation of the Afghanistani people, particularly consisting of women and the tribes in the fulfilment of their basic needs. In the formulation of policies, plans, programmes and schemes, eco-restoration, eco-preservation and eco-development must be given due consideration. The sustainable land-use/and-cover plan should be formulated and implemented by the active participation of the local people.

Generation of Employment Opportunities: –
The protection of existing resources in Afghanistan, the development of barren and wastelands, implementation of massive fruit tree plantation programme, watershed management programme, and cultivation management schemes may generate adequate employment opportunities

Strategy for different levels :-
Within Afghanistan there may be large variations in height, slope, rainfall, soil types, vegetational cover, population pressure, social system etc. Hence, it would be practical to work out the strategy for different areas at three levels; namely at the level of (i) major region on the national level, (ii) mecro region on the state or provincial level and (iii) micro region on the district and block level.

Water Management:-
The hills of Afghan provide sources for the origin of river channels. Hence, a scientific plan for the conservation of basin-wise available water should be formulated and implemented. Water management technology should be practised and the optimum use of available water should be made for various purposes such as water for drinking by human beings and animals, irrigation, industrial and hydro-power generation. Water collected as a result of the melting of snow-cover in winters should also be properly utilized for irrigation & hydel-power generation.

Generation of Employment Opportunities :-
The protection of existing resources in Afghanistan, the development of barren and wastelands, implementation of massive fruit tree plantation programme, watershed management programme, and cultivation management schemes may generate adequate employment opportunities.

Water Management:-
The hills of Afghan provide sources for the origin of river channels. Hence, a scientific plan for the conservation of basin-wise available water should be formulated and implemented. Water management technology should be practised and the optimum use of available water should be made for various purposes such as water for drinking by human beings and animals, irrigation, industrial and hydro-power generation. Water collected as a result of the melting of snow-cover in winters should also be properly utilized for irrigation & hydel-power generation.

Hydel Power Generation:-
The terrain of the Afghanistan is most suitable for hydel-power production. Afghanisthan has a larger hydel-power potential amounting to 10% of the whole of south Asia. In this country the hydel electricity power development should be given emphasis on basin-wise development like Khasu, Farah, Hari, Murghab, Kokcha, Abe-Panja, Konar and Helmand main river and its tributaries. The survey, investigation and preparation of detailed project report of the projects in the Helmand, Khash, Farah, Murghab, Kokcha, Abe-Panja and Konar river basin is being considered for the setting of new hydro power station in the war ravaged Afghanistan. For the construction of hydro-power station in the Afghanistan it requires detailed studies. With the help of remote sensing technique the suitable dam sites can be identified and on these sites reservoirs can be constructed. The water received from the melting of snow in summer, can be stored and utilized for the Hydro-Power generation. The detailed field studies can be followed by image processing technology. Selecting most suitable dam-site will require detailed studies of both surface and sub-surface structures of the dam-site area and its surrounding. These field informations can be easily integrated with remotely sensed data for the best dam site selections.

Animal Husbandry: –
With proper planning, animal husbandry can become an important activity in Afghanistan. Extensive pasture lands exist in the country, on which the animals may be reared for the benefit of the individuals and used for the prosperity of the people. The available best breeds of livestock including sheep, goat and horse should be preserved. The artificial insemination programme should be implemented. The health coverage programme should be extended to the extreme rural areas to protect and preserve the livestock and animal life. A network of chilling and dairy plants should be established in rural areas of the province to supplement the income of Afghan people and strengthening their life support system.

Animal husbandry may play an important role in economic scenario of Afghanistan. A country that expounds in 6.83 lakh Sq. Kms. of area, of which 70% is in the form of undulating topography has survived the harshness of climatic and geographical conditions to become the only country where the local breeds of animals are in abundance. Due to production of wool, meat, leather, milk and fertilizer the over all income will increase. Schemes and services should be launched for different ethnic groups, to raise the living standards of the weaker sections. Programmes like poultry development, animal transaction facility, sheep, goat, horse and camel development are being carried on for the overall development in every sector. People from lower income levels and unemployed youth are being encouraged to pursue animal husbandry as a means of earning and living.

Sheep and Goats: –
Both Sheep and Goats husbandry contribute significantly to the economy of the war ravaged Afghanistan, particularly to the economy of arid and cool temperate mountain zone. Apart from utilising the waste lands, they supply man with food and material for clothing. Thus, the production of wool and meat adds to the farmer’s income of Afghan peoples. Dry pastoral conditions have been found more suitable for the rearing of flocks yielding superior wool in the mountain of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan poultry development would give a substantial source of supplementary food for the nation, a gainful subsidiary occupation to a large section of the people and rural employment; poultry production has tremendous potentialities in Afghanistan because of :- (i) The efficiency with which the poultry

FIG. 2 Physiography of Afghanistan

Poultry : –
In Afghanistan poultry development would give a substantial source of supplementary food for the nation, a gainful subsidiary occupation to a large section of the people and rural employment; poultry production has tremendous potentialities in Afghanistan because of :- (i) The efficiency with which the poultry converts food -stuffs into human food (ii) The small investment required to get it started, (iii) Its suitability as a family enterprise (iv) The small area required (v) Quick financial returns.

Energy Management : –
In Afghanistan the energy needs for cooking, keeping the houses warm in winter season and to meet the other needs of the urban and rural areas energy management is very important. To meet energy requirements of both the rural and the urban areas, proper plans should be formulated and implemented by involving the people of Afghanistan. For this, the silvi-pastoral plantation should be encouraged on the village level.

Planning of urban centres :-
Most of the urban towns of Afghanistan have been destroyed by the Talibans or by the bombardment of the American Air Force planes. Now it is a major issue who should rebuild these towns. A town should be given basic infrastructure facilities like road, electricity or power, medical and health, education, housing, etc. The urban centres and growth of towns in the hill areas of Afghanistan should be strictly regulated on ecological considerations.

Agriculture :-
In Afghanistan the agriculture is by far the most important occupation. More than 84% of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The varied topography and agro-climatic conditions permit the cultivation of a wide variety of crops and fruits ranging from arid, semi-arid, sub-tropical to cool temperate. The effective measures, if taken to persuade the people to practise more extensively the profitable and scientific cultivation will undoubtedly go a long way in enhancing the agricultural out put in the regions. The valley of Helmand, alluvial plains of Kabulistan, Bamian area, Panjshir valley, Badakhshan region of north-east of Afghanistan, low plain of Afghan Turkistan, Oasis of Tejend, Amu-Darye, the Hari-Rud, fertile plain of Herat, Oasis of Merv and upper valley of the Murghab may be the best for large agriculture production area of war-ravaged Afghanistan. In these areas the cultivation of the staple crops including wheat, barley, millet, maize, sugarcane, beet grenadines, saffron and date-palms in summer, winter and autumn season. Through proper planning in agriculture sector Afghanistan will be self-sufficient in near future in food grains.

If prepare the proper planning of Afghanistan than this country will get additional irrigation of 10 lakhs hectares land, 10 lakhs hectares of grazing land, 20 lakhs tones additional food grain including wheat, maize, oat, mustard and gram, 5 to10 lakhs tones fruits, flowers, vegetables and dry fruits including date, grape, fig, chestnut, currant, musk, beet, orange, pear, lemon, almond, pistacho, raisin, mulberry and apple can be produced every year.

Potato Cultivation :-
In Afghanistan the potato tubers can easily grown in cold region so that potato cultivation should be increased. It is remarkable that even coarse hill soils are able to produce fine crops of potato. Because of the higher return value of seed potatoes, their cultivation can be done largely at high attitudes of Afghan mountain region. The Afghanistan people can grow potato as a crop on hill slopes in abundance quantity. The Central Potato Research Institute, Simla, Himachal Pradesh, India can give the new technique for high-yielding and disease resistant varieties of potato to Afghanistan. The Indian government also can supply spawn and technical guidance to the growers including mushrooms in Afghanistan.

Horticulture: –
In Afghanistan horticulture has special significance from the point of view of better land use and amelioration of the economic conditions of the people. The land of Afghanistan is suitable for the production of fruits, vegetables and flower seeds. If Afghan government promotes horticulture activities in the country the people of rural and urban area can earn additional benefit. Afghanistan can be divided into five horticultural zones. Table No. 1 shows Horticultural Zone. The Bactria plain, Kabulistan Valley, Panjshir Valley and Badakhshan region may be the best fruit production area in Asia including dry fruits. The north and north-eastern plain of Afghanistan provides suitable conditions for successful growing fruit cultivation.

Table -1

  Zone Important Fruits
1. Lower Hills and Valleys Zone Sub-Tropical Fruits Like Litchi, Loquat, Guava, Citrus Fruits, Mango, Spices, Apple, Grapes, etc.
2. Mid-Hills Zone Stone Fruits Like Peach, Plum, Apricot, Persimmon, Pear, Pomegranate, Almond, Orange, Spices, Olive, etc.
3. High Hills and Interior Valleys Apple, Cherry, Pear, Almond, Walnut, Chestnut, Apricot, etc.
4. Plain Zone Guava, Litchi, Pomegranate, Fig, Mango, Mushrooms, Musk-Melon, Grapes, Orange, Pistachio, Mulberry. etc.
5. Dry and Cold Zone Raisin, Grapes, Prunes, Musk-Melon, Drying Varieties of Apricot, Chilgoza, Apple, Date Mulberry, Spices, etc.

Thus, through proper planning the well-managed Grapes orchard can be developed in plain area of Hazara and Hindu Kush Lower hills and valley and river side of Kabul, Murghab, Hari-Rud and Helmand river. Jalalabad, Bamyan,, Charika, Ghazni, Malistan, Tarinkot, Qulat, Kandahar, Lashkargah, Chaghcharan, Maymana, Shibarghan, Mazare-sharif, Kunduz, Taloqan, and Faizabad districts are the best for horticulture practice. In the rich plains of Kabul a great variety of fruit is grown. In the lower region (below 2000 feet) one meets such characteristic Mediterranean fruits as orange, figs and grenadines as well as date-palms and sugercane.

The Mountain region received snow melting water in summer. This water can be utilised in the Kandhar, Helmand, Nimruz, Farah and Herat provinces for irrigation purpose. By constructing the Dam on the Helmand, Amu-Darya, Murghab and Herirud rivers for irrigation purpose. The construction of Dam for utilizing the melting water can produce near about 20 Lakh tons food-grains, 4 Lakh tons fruits and 2 Lakh tons dry fruits by irrigation.

Pasture Development:-
Afghanistan has better breeds of sheeps, goat, horse, Mule, Ass and camel. To provide them with nutritious feed and fodder, a pasture development programme should be implemented on common property land. The undulating terrain of each village should be developed as a fuel-cum-fodder farm and the regeneration of this area should be looked after by the village committee under the technical guidance of the forest department. It is also possible that a group of four or five village may develop a common Silvi-pastoral farm on a common land. The existing pasture land on the mountain region may be regenerated by re-seeding and serial spraying of grass seeds. It is all the more essential to meet the requirement of fuel and fodder of each village. To achieve this objective a proper plan should be formulated and implemented for the establishment of Silvi-pastoral farms on village common lands. The high yielding local varieties of grasses may be grown on village common lands and waste lands.

Solar and Wind Power :-
The south and west part of Afghanistan country forms part of desert eco-system. It has a vast solar and wind power potential which may be harnessed for power generation. With the development of the technology for solar power generation, the area under reference will generate sufficient quantity of power required for the economic development of the area. On an average about 300 days remain cloud free in a year in the desert area of Afghanistan which has a vast potential for the generation of power from the solar energy. The western, south-west and northern winds blow in the desert and surrounding mountain parts of Afghanistan at a sufficiently higher speed which may be harnessed through wind mills.

Geo-Thermal Energy :-
The development of Afghanistan regions, located at higher altitudes, where extremely cold conditions prevail, the reserves of fossil fuel are scanty. The periods for favourable climatic condition and land of lofty mountains and plateaus conducive to agricultural growth are very limited; it requires the full mobilization of natural resources and the application of new technology for food production and other uses. Things have to be stored for winter when the roads remain closed because of heavy snowfall. The very high price of fossil fuel, the high rate of electricity and the poor economic conditions have stood in the way of green house cultivation there. Their problems can be solved to a great extent through planned and co-ordinated efforts and through fruitful utilization of the region’s solar and geo-thermal energy resources, which are available in plenty.

Transport and Communication :-
The transport and communication system as a whole is not well developed. Due to lack of transport and communication facilities it remains the main limiting factor in the development the Afghanistan. Some important roads like Kabul-Kandahar, Kabul-Peshawar, Kabul-Herat, Herat Farah and Farah Kandahar were constructed mainly for the administrative convenience. The development of roads as a measure of social welfare is yet to take place in Afghanistan and there is no railway facility. Some good roads are in the Kabulistan, Turkistan, Helmand and Seistan, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. More than 70% of the village are situated away from jeepable road. The density of roads is very low in all the regions of Afghanistan. The degree of accessibility is naturally very poor. The air transport is quite insignificant.

Proposed Infrastructure Facilities:-
The proper development of different regions of Afghanistan depends on the provision of basic infrastructural facilities such as food, clothing, shelter, education, primary health services, roads, railway lines, air service, communication network, water and power supplies, banks, administration and national security set up, maintenance of law and order situation and other financial organisation etc. Afghanistan, which is situated on strategic position in Central Asia, requires special attention to develop the infrastructure network in different provinces. Four railway route can be constructed between -(i) Mazar-e-Sharif to Kundus and Kundus to Faizabad in Badakshan province (ii) Mazar-e-sharif to Meymaneh in Fayab Province (iii) Meymaneh to Herat and Herat to Farah in Farah provian (iv) Farah to Kandahar and Kandahar to Kabul

A border road right from the Badakhsan to Takhar, Kondoz, Balkh, Jowzjan, Faryab Badghis, Herat, Farah, Nimruz, Helmand, Kandahar, Zobal, Paktika, Paktia, Lowgar and Kabol should also be constructed for providing accessibility to the border area and its inner sphere of influence. Due to construction of road and railway routs along the international border with the Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and north and northwest Pakistan transportation facilities can be developed. There is a dire need to develop a communication network in Afghanistan. The installation of STD, ISD PCOs, e-mail and internet centre in the rural areas of different provincial headquarters to achieve a hundred per-cent communication link with villages and towns requires real high priority. There is also the need for setting up powerful T.V. transmitters at Kandahar, Farah, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Fayzabad, Kabul and Bamian.

Conclusion :-
The G-8 countries, India, and China can play a greater role than other countries in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of war ravaged country. These countries can help Afghanistan in the reconstruction of shattered infrastructure, administration, road network, education, telecommunication, power, rail, airport and hospital. Priority should be given to reconstruction of the economic system, agriculture and rural development. The recovery, reconstruction and long-term development programme will span many regions of the country and range in scope from agriculture based rural development, food and seed security, the rehabilitation of capital infrastructure, to the provision and upgrading of health and education, services from the primary to the tertiary levels, institution and capacity building, especially at the community level and the restoration of cultural heritage for social inclusion. The most striking feature of the economy is its virtual dependence on a single activity – agriculture. 84% of the working force is engaged in primary production. The high pressure of population on agricultural land, lack of secondary and tertiary sectors and inadequate transport systems are the main features of the country’s economy.

The strategy for development will have to be guided by the physio-economic conditions of the different region in Afghanistan. This calls for change in the land use pattern on scientifically and economically more remunerative lines and provision of electricity and adequate transport system. Of the various problems faced by Afghanistan that of soil erosion, deforestation and desertification are quite acute. If the Afghan people have to work for a bright future, the possibilities are ample. With the help of proper planning they would have a full inventory of the regional resources and to evaluate the different potentials, region by region. The different regions are endowed with vast resources of grazing land, scenic beauty, agriculture, horticulture, live-stock, minerals and above all, the sturdy and pains-taking Afghan people with rather a proud heritage.

Actually the regions of Afghanistan reflect all the problems of under-development in an acute form. The potential of resources both human and physical, have not been developed, rather they have suffered from utter neglect till 1979 when the Afghan revolution began to turn against it. Now the economy of the different regions of Afghanistan needs to be strengthened with full vigour and skilful resource planning. The development depends upon the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, setting up of hydro-electric power stations, establishment of agro-industries based on forest, horticulture and livestock, and tourism on scientific basis.

The foregoing analysis of the Afghanistan personality reveals that the country’s potential resources in the form of green meadows and pastures, charming landscapes, abundant snow-fed water for power and irrigation, traditionally acquired skills for arts and crafts, and production of quality fruits and nuts are adequate enough to build a sound economic base; the fertile soils of the Kabulistan, Badakhshan and Turkistan valleys, river terraces and other parts are capable enough to produce abundant food and raw materials not only to replenish the deficiencies but also to lead to industrial development. All this would generate forces of economic growth to the advantage of the different regions as well as the country.

To conclude, it may be stated that the north, north-east, north-west, west and south-western region of Afghanisan has better potential as compated to the other mountain region. It has vast potential for agricultural mineral, natural gas and oil exploration, industrial and livestock sectors. The only need is the genuine interest, dedication and missionary spirit of Afghan people, which may materialise the suggested proposals and turn Afghanistan into a prosperous country of central and South Asia.

Author is highly thankful to Professor A.K.Singh, Vice-Chancellor of M.L.Sukhadia University, Udaipur for providing all the facilities during the course of this study. I am indebted to Prof. K.K.Sud, Prof. R.N.Vyas, Prof. Sharad Srivastava and Dr. L.S.Rao for giving valuable comments and suggestions. Thanks are also due to Mr. Lal Singh Rathore and Mr. C.D.Ola Research Scholars for computer work.

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