Community-Based Watershed Management [Afghanistan]

Mudiriat Aabreza Tawasut Mardum (Dari)

approaches_2612 - Afghanistan

Completeness: 86%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Montzieux Mathilde


SLM specialist:

Hazem Zainullah


SLM specialist:

Alemi Saadat


SLM specialist:

Ershad Mustafa


SLM specialist:

Ahmadi Reza


Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
HELVETAS (Swiss Intercooperation)

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

Stone wall

Stone wall [Afghanistan]

Contour stone walls constructed on moderate to steep slopes to retain water and sediments and trap snow.

  • Compiler: Aqila Haidery
Contour Trench Bund

Contour Trench Bund [Afghanistan]

Contour trench bund applied on contour lines of moderate slope to trap run-off to improve infiltration and reduce flash floods.

  • Compiler: Aqila Haidery

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

Sustainable implementation of watershed management through appropriate SLM technologies, formation of organizational structures and capacity building of stakeholders

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

The overall objective of the community-based watershed management project implemented at Sar-e-Ahangaran was to reduce water induced disaster risks and improve people’s livelihoods. The project was implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with people’s support and funding assistance from USAID.

About 67 hectares of degraded land has been rehabilitated since 2009 through various soil and water conservation measures like stone walls, contour trenches and plantation of fodder species such as alfalfa. The local communities are also protecting the treated areas from grazing and shrub cutting.

With facilitation from CRS, a 15-member watershed management committee was appointed by the participating families. This was important for organizing watershed related works and for the sustainability of project interventions. Some rules for managing the selected watershed were also formulated in a participatory way. For instance, if anyone is found grazing animals at the site, he has to give one sheep to the watershed committee as a fine.
CRS has provided training and technical support to the watershed committee members and workers for project implementation and monitoring. The daily workers were selected from the local communities by the watershed committee and paid in cash as per national norms for their labor. CRS also organized awareness raising workshops regarding environmental conservation and water-shed management and the entire community including teachers and students participated in these village events.

As a result of Sar-e-Ahangaran watershed management project, the people have a more positive attitude towards natural resource management. The formation and capacity building of the watershed management committee is a step towards ensuring long-term sustainability of the project outputs and community owner-ship. The watershed committee is not yet registered with the government but for future sustainability, this will be an important activity. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is in the process of formulating a comprehensive community-based natural resource management strategy. Once in place, the Sar-e-Ahangaran community can take advantage of that strategy if the watershed committee is formally registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (Bamyan).

The Community-Based Watershed Management approach is documented by Sustainable Land Management Project /HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation which is funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation with close support and cooperation of the Catholic Relief Service (CRS).

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Sar-e-Ahangaran, Bamyan center

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

The Approach focused mainly on SLM with other activities (Disaster Risk Reduction, Rural Livelihoods Improvement)

The overall objective of the project was to reduce watershed induced disaster risks and improve rural livelihoods through SLM technologies and community based sustainable approaches

The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: Lack of people’s knowledge regarding sustainable management of natural resources and disaster risk reduction, lack of knowledge, technical and organisational capacities on sustainable land management technologies for degraded lands

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

social/ cultural/ religious norms and values
  • hindering

People did not have a good idea about how to conserve the environment and at the same time reduce disaster risks and improve their livelihoods

Treatment through the SLM Approach: Training and education via sharing knowledge with watershed committees in Waras forming maintenance committees who should look after restrictions about grazing. Practical demonstration of potential SLM technologies

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • hindering

People do not have financial capacities

Treatment through the SLM Approach: Project had a Cash for Work but learning approach

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • hindering

As the land is formally owned by the government, people did not invest much in sustainable practices. During project initiation, people were also sceptical and rejected the project idea as they thought that by digging trenches, the project was trying to search for gold

Treatment through the SLM Approach: Through several discussions and clarifications and by assurances from the government, people were convinced that the project had no hidden motives and gradually their trust in CRS increased

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • hindering

Lack of knowledge about SLM measures

Treatment through the SLM Approach: Training and technical support from CRS

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities
  • community-based organizations
3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation interactive CRS discussed land use problems and formulated the project. Project site was selected by the participating families and respective CDCs
planning interactive CDC and watershed members were involved in the planning but not the whole community
implementation external support Implementation was by the local communities with cash for work approach
monitoring/ evaluation self-mobilization Voluntary monitoring group to look after the environment. Also joint monitoring by project stakeholders
Research passive

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


The organizational Chart of Sar-e_Ahangaran Watershed Management Committee


Catholic Relief Service (CRS)

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • mainly SLM specialists, following consultation with land users

The area was selected by the community

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by mainly by SLM specialists with consultation of land users. However, workers were selected by the watershed committee members in consultation with their community development councils (CDCs).

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • Project field officers, Land users, CDC and Watershed Management Committee members, teacher and students, both women and men
Form of training:
  • on-the-job
  • farmer-to-farmer
Form of training:
  • organizing courses
Subjects covered:

contour trench and stone wall technologies, tree planting, importance of pasture management and watershed management

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Describe/ comments:

CRS provided continuous advice; Key elements: increase awareness by forming a watershed committee, technical support of the committee

Advisory service is inadequate to ensure the continuation of land conservation activities; The government or other advisory service is still inadequate to ensure the continuation of land conservation activities. The government authorities visited the project only once, at the end of the project. They did not provide much support; however, as the land belongs formally to the state, they did not have any objections for applying watershed management measures.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, moderately
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Give further details:

CDCs and watershed management committees. Schools teachers and students also received training

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



bio-physical aspects were regular monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Water quality and quantitative measurements

technical aspects were ad hoc monitored by project staff, land users, other through observations; indicators: ad hoc field visits and monitoring of structural quality

socio-cultural aspects were ad hoc monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Hosuehold survey

economic / production aspects were ad hoc monitored by project staff through measurements; indicators: Household survey

area treated aspects were ad hoc monitored by project staff through observations; indicators: Other areas where technology has been applied

no. of land users involved aspects were regular monitored by land users through measurements; indicators: Selecting the beneficiaries

management of Approach aspects were None monitored by land users through observations; indicators: Monitoring the community which looks after the pasture management

There were few changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation: especially with regard to organisational structure for monitoring works

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


  • Farm research
Give further details and indicate who did the research:

Topics included technology functions, vegetation status before and after project, monitoring of spring (located below) water quality and quantity.

5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

If precise annual budget is not known, indicate range:
  • 10,000-100,000
Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: international non-government: 99.0%; local community / land user(s): 1.0%

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


5.5 Other incentives or instruments

Were other incentives or instruments used to promote implementation of SLM Technologies?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Land cover by vegetation improved significantly. Flash floods and snow avalanche problems were reduced, and the community members were more aware about the technologies and approaches for sustainable land management.

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

People got cash for work and some of the families could pay back their loans through this income.

The land belongs to the state and the water use right is as well open access and and organized manner. In this particular land land use problem or water use problems have not been seen.

Did other land users / projects adopt the Approach?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

There were constraints from the people in the beginning. Now a similar approach with some modifications is being implemented in other watersheds as well as a result of this project.

Did the Approach lead to improved livelihoods / human well-being?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

They got more money via the cash for work; however, there is no impact for the livestock because the pasture area is big enough.

Did the Approach help to alleviate poverty?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

due to cash for work approach and increased production of wheat, potato and other agricultural products as a result of reduced flood risks

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased profit(ability), improved cost-benefit-ratio
  • rules and regulations (fines)/ enforcement
  • to get employed through cash for work
  • reduce flood risks
  • Understand the importance of watershed
  • Understand the importance of NRM
  • Ownership of the project activities

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • uncertain
If no or uncertain, specify and comment:

but CRS continues to build capacities of watershed committees and support plantation of fodder species so that people get direct benefits and the project is sustained.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Less damage to some agricultural land located below the watershed sites due to flash floods
Prevention of snow slide
Increased water in the spring
Plant coverage of the area increased
Prevention from soil erosion

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Watershed management committee is not registered CRS should facilitate registration of the committee with the Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in Bamyan
People are not taking care of the plantations People must understand the importance of plantations. The project should figure out the reasons why people are not interested in plantation activities and adjust approaches accordingly

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

Links and modules

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