A land in turmoil

  • 14/01/2002

Following the conclusion of the un-sponsored talks on Afghanistan in Bonn, unep executive director Klaus Toepfer rightly said environmental issues should form part of the package being considered for the country's rehabilitation.

Afghanistan today is at best a relic of years of war litters. The big challenge before the war-ravaged country is thus a developmental one, where ecological issues need to be urgently addressed. The over two-decade long armed conflicts have led to degradation in areas such as freshwater, sanitation, forests and soil quality. What needs to be first built up is a good natural resource base.

Afghanistan has a tradition of irrigation tunnels, which has now been eroded and bombed out. This unique system, called karez, has its origins in Mesopotamia and Babylon around 700 bc from where it spread to Egypt, Persia and India. Similar structures in the Malabar region of Kerala are known as

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