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Wardak

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Wardak Province in east-central Afghanistan occupies an area of 3,745 square miles. It has a population of some 310,000, though several thousand have become refugees in Pakistan. The administrative center of the province is the recently constructed town of Maidan shahr, built in the 1970s and located just to the west of the Kabul-to-Kandahar highway. The province is extremely mountainous and is traversed by that road and by the highway west into the Hazarajat region and northwest to Bamiyan Province. The inhabitants of the province are Ghilzais and Durrani Pashtuns in the south and Hazaras in the north and west. About 89 percent of the province is pastureland, but the farms are extremely small; the majority of the holdings are about half an acre in size. The whole province suffered considerably during the civil war from 1989 to 2001, and the infrastructure that was built up in the 1970s has been largely destroyed.


Contents

Natural resources

Wardak province has less mineral and forests but enough water resources. Minerals such as gems and marble are found the mountains of provincial centre and Narkh districts. Recently the government has banned the extraction of these resources. Wild almond forests are found in three villages in the districts of Nerkh and Jalriz districts. Three rivers flow through Wardak province i.e. Helmand river, Logar river and Maydan river. There is one dam called Chak dam on Logar river at Chak (currently producing 3300 Kilo Watt electricity) as two of its turbines not working and only one is operational. Recently a water reservoir by name of Band Dana in Jaghathu districts has been repaired.


There are no major developments in other sectors except agriculture in last 20-30 years. Wardak is famous for its quality apples introduced about thirty years ago by Dr. Wakil, who was also from Wardak. Now in Wardak half of the irrigated land is occupied by orchards and is a major source of income. In the past thirty years there is a shift from traditional crops like rice, maize and wheat to vegetables and orchards growing. Also access to improved seeds, fertilizer and agricultural machinery has increased significantly during the past 30 years.


Human Resources

According to a rough estimate 80% of the people mostly from the provincial centre and adjacent districts migrated during the war to Iran and Pakistan. Almost half of the migrated people have returned on the hope of better employment but the dreams of the most of retunes did not come true. Kochis stay in Syed Abad, Daymardad, Nerkh districts during summer (April-September). Traditionally Kochis would spend summer in upland pastures of Hazaragat (Hesa Awal Behsood and Hesa Dom Behsood districts). Recently, government has given land to 600 Kochis near provincial centre to settle down permanently.


Education

The literacy ratio (30-40 % of the population is educated) is relatively better in Wardak compared to other parts of the country. A significant proportion of the population is doctors, engineers and graduates from Agriculture faculty. There are 39 high schools, 67 middle schools, 157 primary schools and 78 village schools in the province. Currently 90,170 male and 24, 570 females are enrolled in these schools. There is no accurate estimate of religious schools but Wardak is also famous for its religious education and an example of this is one well know religious institution at Syed Abad on the main road from Kabul to Kandahar.


Agriculture

According to the figure provided by Direcorate of Agriculture in Wardak approximately 32691 Ha of land is irrigated and 11120 Ha is rainfed. The major sources of irrigation are Karezes, rivers, springs, wells and tube wells. It is note worthy over here that the majority of the irrigation (80%) in eight districts of the province is done through Karezes and springs. Three rivers (Logar, Maydan and Helmand) run through five districts of the province. Approximate length of the Logar river in the province is around 350 Km while that of Maydan river is 240 Km and provides irrigation water to provincial centre, Jalriz district and part of Nerkh district. Helmand river only runs through Hazargat (Hessa Awal Behsood and Hessa Dom Behsood). According to Directorate of Irrigation and Water Resources there are almost 1500 small and medium canals and 700 major canals on river Logar and Wardak. Most of these are damaged and are in urgent need of repair.


The growing of traditional crop like rice before war and drought indicates the abundance of water at that time. The effect of drought is more pronounced than war. During the drought the water in rivers, Karezes and springs has reduced by 90%. This drought has forced the people to install private tubewells since Taliban time. There is no restriction or rule where to install the tube wells as certain rules prevalent for Karez construction. This has led to mushrooming of private tube wells which has pushed down the water table. According to officials of Directorate of Irrigation and Water Resources, the government has realized this grave issue and recently banned the installation of private tube wells but this order has not been implemented yet. Now only water can be found at a depth of unprecedented 50 meters depth and the average rate of buying water from tube well is Afs.150/hour. Apples, apricot, beans and potato are the major cash crops of the area which are sold to Kabul market and also to Pakistan but there is very poor marketing system. Mostly traders from outside buy the produce from the farmers at their farm on a very low rate compared to market. So the maximum benefit goes to the middleman i.e. outside trader.


Livestock

According to a rough estimate provided by Directorate of Agriculture, there are 18,000 cows, 170,000 sheep, and 130,000 goats in the province but even the director of Agriculture believe that these figures are not true and the livestock population can be much higher than this. Most of the livestock is found in Hazarajat (Hessa Awal Behsood and Hessa Dom Behsood) and livestock is their major source of income as the land holding is small and not much productive in the area. In Hazaragat the sale of livestock products is more compared to other districts of the province. In Hazargat woolen rugs like Glem and Namad are produced. The milk products like Qrooth, chaka and butter are sold. A project funded by FAO has established four milk collection centres i.e. two in provincial centre and two in Nerkh district. The farmers bring the milk to these points which are bought by the staff of Guzargah milk processing centre at Kabul The project also provides training for farmers in animal husbandry and also inputs like fodder seeds. This project is very popular among farmers and the number of cows has increased significantly due to this programme. The farmers in other districts are demanding for extension of this project to their districts and increase the number of the milk collection points.


See Also


References

  • Conflict in Afghanistan Frank A. Clements
  • Adamec, Ludwig. 1972–1985. Historical and Political Gazetteer of Afghanistan. 6 vols. Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck-u Verlagsansalt.
  • Aisa.org provincial profile