“It was really hard for my family after our crops, our only source of income, stopped growing after the irrigation system was destroyed by the flood. I started borrowing money to provide for my children. I want them to get a higher education and become good citizens, and now I am optimistic for them as my crops are growing well again,” he explained.
As the name suggests, Charbagh – which means “orchards at four sides” – located along the Swat River, is a fertile area. The orchards are renowned for the abundance and quality of their persimmons, peaches, apples, apricots and plums.
Agriculture is the major source of livelihood for the residents of Charbagh, but the 2010 floods wreaked havoc in the area, leaving the population jobless and without a steady income. Critically for the farmers, the floods washed away the irrigation channel.
According to the villagers, they knocked on the doors of elected representatives and the district administration, pleading with them to reconstruct the channel but their requests bore no fruit.
Then in 2013, representatives of the PEACE project arrived. After 7 male and 2 female Community Development Organisations were formed and came together in a Village Development Organisation, all agreed the irrigation system was a priority.
The PEACE project said they would finance the project as long as the community contributed and agreed to maintain it afterwards. Together they built the irrigation channel at a total value of 4.1 million rupees.
The villagers worked hard to help build the channel that has helped revive the farming activities. The two and a half kilometer irrigation channel is the lifeline for more than 5,000 kanal of agriculture land on which the people of five villages grew their crops.
“My 11-kanal land produced more than 2,000 kilogrammes of rice and I am expecting 4,000 kilogrammes of onions this season,” Habib says, adding, “it will earn me enough money to meet all my family’s needs.”
Habib Khan has five sons and two daughters, all of whom go to school. After the flood he could not afford his children’s school fees and had to take them out of private schools.
“For three years they fell behind in their studies, but now I have readmitted them in their previous schools and they are happy,” he said with a satisfied smile.
Total cost of scheme:
Union Concil: Charbagh
Scope: 480 ft channel