Back from the Brink
Khermanuk means “place of wheat threshing”, but when a devastating landslide swept down its mountainside, it left behind only desolation. Noshaq is helping this village dig out of its past and into its future.
READ OUR BLOG TO TRACK KHERMANUK’S PROGRESS!
Objective: To enable Khermanuk to become economically self-sufficient over the next 5 years.
Projects: Construction of access road, construction of suspension bridge, agricultural improvement, and development of honey industry.
Khermanuk villagers pose for the camera.
On December 12, 2005, a large earthquake rattled Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains, triggering a landslide that damaged Khermanuk Village irreparably. Already desperately poor, Khermanuk’s 100 families were forced to re-locate farther down their isolated valley, leaving them further from civilization and further from hope. Sadly, no organizations are working in this village.
All that is about to change. In Fall of 2010, Noshaq’s team braved rough roads and a four-hour hike to visit Khermanuk and explore ways to help them. What we found was shocking. Far away from urban centers and with no one to help them recover from their recent disaster, Khermanuk’s villagers must resort to desperate measures in order to survive. Two young men from each family travel days from home in search of a job that will feed their families. A few villagers venture as far as Iran, surviving a treacherous journey that some never survive. With no internal economy, these re-patriated income sources are their sole method of survival, a fact that fragments their families and sets their village up for economic collapse.
At Noshaq, we believe this situation is unacceptable. If Khermanuk is going to survive, it must find sustainable livelihoods within its own commuity that allow its families to stick together and re-build their broken lives. That’s why we’ve sat down with Khermanuk’s elders to develop a series of projects to ensure a more prosperous future for this isolated and neglected pocket of the Afghan mountains.
An elder from Khermanuk smiles during a Noshaq planning session.
Whenever we begin working with a village, our biggest priorities are friendship and community acceptance. Khermanuk is no exception. We didn’t arrive there with a host of pre-conceived project ideas. Instead, project selection developed organically after assessing the needs ourselves and holding open conversations with the village chief and community elders. The results revealed three key needs in the village:
To begin tackling these three challenges, Noshaq and village elders identified three projects to begin our efforts in Khermanuk Village.
Project 1 - Access: Construction of Dirt Access Road
Without access to market centers and trade routes across the country, Khermanuk’s economic future is severely stunted. Noshaq hopes to address this problem through the construction of an access road, which would allow cars and freight trucks to travel in close proximity to the village. This would enable them to transport goods and produce more easily and would open up trade opportunities with urban centers.
Construction of the 2.5-mile road will be done using hand tools and community-sourced labor to minimize cost and provide jobs to needy families.
Estimated Cost: $24,691
Noshaq will be converting this trail into a road.
Project 2 - Agriculture: Construction of Suspension Bridge
Not only is Khermanuk isolated -- it’s also located on the side of a mountain. These conditions make thriving agriculture a dim prospect, with only 30 jerabs (12 acres) of sloped land to grow enough food for 100 families. If Khermanuk is going to improve its agriculture, it is going to need more land.
Across the river that runs below the village is farmable land owned by Khermanuk. Unfortunately, the river is swollen during the growing season, which blocks access to this much-needed land. If villagers could just access this extra acreage, their amount of agricultural land would instantly double, allowing them to increase their crops and better provide for their families.
Noshaq will be constructing a suspension bridge across the river, enabling farmers to grow more crops and setting the stage for future agricultural improvement.
Estimated Cost: $25,000
The future location of the suspension bridge. Picture taken in the Fall, when the river is at its lowest level.
Project 3 - Agricultural Improvement
While we’re waiting to gather funds and supplies for the suspension bridge, we’ll begin to tackle Khermanuk’s agricultural deficit by helping them maximize the productivity of the 12 acres of arable land they already have. Using simple methods that everyone can understand, we’ll be working with villagers to develop improved irrigation and terracing techniques that expand the amount of farmable acreage and increase crop yields.
Estimated Cost: $5,780
Simple improvements in technique will allow Khermanuk villagers to maximize crop yields.
Project 4 - Income: Honey Farm
Khermanuk’s land might be rugged, but in the Springtime, the surrounding mountains light up with high desert wildflowers. These flowers offer the potential for a new industry in their community: honey. Honeybees thrive on these wildflowers and provide villagers the opportunity to produce a product that’s both profitable and full of nutrition.
Noshaq will be utilizing local Afghan trainers from other parts of the country who are already skilled in honey production to spread the knowledge of this industry to Khermanuk. Funds will be needed to provide training and to purchase bees and supplies for the first set of hives. Villagers will be able to sell this honey at the nearest bazaar for roughly $8 per jar, giving them a valuable source of supplemental income.
Estimated Cost: $5,847
A honey industry will enrich villager’s lives both
economically and nutritionally.
These projects will not be possible without your generous donations and financial support. Please consider making a donation to help Khermanuk come Back from the Brink.