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UNEP to help tackle land challenge and strengthen rural livelihoods in mountainous Badakhshan, Afghanistan

UNEP has in collaboration with Afghanistan begun implementing a project to address reliance on limited land resources and strengthen rural livelihoods.

The project aims to do so through a comprehensive multi-sectorial approach aimed at improving agricultural diversification and productivity, as well as the development of local agro-processing and market development.

Approximately 90 percent of terrain in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province is mountainous or semi-mountainous, while the region is an important watershed for the country. Local communities, mostly made up of subsistence farmers, rely on high altitude rangeland for livestock grazing and limited fertile land around river valleys for crop production. The community’s reliance on the limited available land resources has resulted in poor management and degradation of rangelands, widespread soil erosion on slopes and extensive denuding of the natural vegetation.

UNEP has started implementing a project addressing these challenges in collaboration with Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA). Entitled “Opportunities for Mountain Area Integrated Development” (OMAID), the project started in late 2014 with financial support from the Estonian government, the UK’s Department for International Development and the Global Environment Facility.

The OMAID project will include a number of pilot projects in the Faizabad, Ishkishim and Kishim districts, as well as field-based activities identified as being sensitive to disaster risk.

The pilot projects will demonstrate how community-based strategies can enhance community resilience to climate change and disaster risk. Field interventions will focus on long-term environmental planning, including sustainable water and the rehabilitation and management of pastures. Other activities will focus on developing the capacity of village Community Development Councils and local government line ministries, building community nurseries, as well as integrating ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk reduction.

The project ultimately aims to strengthen the capacity of local institutions in one province, as well as national and international stakeholders, to coordinate dedicated disaster response teams able to mitigate and respond to natural hazards.

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