Afghan water project halted by return of Taliban

A PROJECT part-funded by Guernsey taxpayers to build seven reservoirs in Afghanistan has stalled after the Taliban took hold of the country.

Overseas Aid & Development Commission commissioner Dr Nick Paluch. (30059667)
Overseas Aid & Development Commission commissioner Dr Nick Paluch. (30059667)

The project started in 2020 after an aid grant of £50,000 was made by UK charity HealthProm to focus on the nutrition, health and livelihoods of Afghan mountain women and children.

But a decision was made to remove aid workers from the project due to safety concerns.

It had been hoped to provide five mountain villages with rainwater irrigation, which would improve nutrition for 4,461 villagers and enable livelihoods from cash crops for 525 villagers, including families of widows and people with disabilities.

Also being undertaken was work to plant 3,300 almond trees, which would stabilise soil against erosion by spring rains.

The Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission said the HealthProm project team were in the Afghan capital Kabul seeking permission from the Taliban to return to the Charkent District to complete the work as soon as possible.

The States said the commission did not fund any 2021 grant aid projects in Afghanistan and added that countries were evaluated regularly before a decision is made to conduct aid work there.

‘Commission policy does allow for exceptions but, in general, it funds projects in the lowest quartile of the United Nations’ Human Development Index while also taking into account a country’s position on the Corruption Perception Index,’ a spokesman said.

Importance of aid emphasised

Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission commissioner Nick Paluch, pictured right, has spoken about why supporting overseas aid projects is important to ensure poorer communities have access to safe drinking water.

‘We support a lot of clean water and irrigation projects because they have the potential to transform the lives of so many people, especially children, by reducing waterborne diseases, improving crop yields and preventing malnutrition,’ he said.

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