Samarkhail village sits along the Kabul river in Behsod district of Nangarhar. Home to around 1,500 families, the village spreads across farmlands ready for the season's harvest. Few years ago, when Haji Matin returned from Pakistan and settled In Samarkhail, it was a different landscape. The land that he and many of his fellow villagers owned used to be marshland and not suitable for farming. Though mainly dependent on agriculture, the villagers, nevertheless, had limited resources for cultivation.
In 2019, IOM selected Samarkhail for a village-level community development project. After extensive discussions with the community members, IOM began excavating a drainage canal to convert the marshy area into fertile agricultural land. Haji Matin is one of the direct beneficiaries of this IOM-led community development project. “I own six jerib (3 acres) of land, which, until a year ago, was swampy. You couldn’t set foot on the land. After the excavation of the canal, my land got converted into farmland and now we cultivate wheat,” Matin explained.
The project directly benefited around 70 families, including returnees and community members, by converting around 150 jeribs (75 acres) of marshy land into agricultural land. IOM completed the project in three months and also employed eight participants from among the returnees and community members in its execution. These farmers are now growing wheat, rice and vegetables.
“This project has improved the livelihood condition of many farmers in my village. Last season alone, I earned around 18,000 Afghanis by selling the produce and now I plan to cultivate vegetables as well," Matin said.