ABOUT AFGHANISTAN SAMSORTYA
Afghanistan Samsortya (samsortya means revitalization, ie. revitalization of the environment) is committed to developing and implementing environmental development projects in Eastern Afghanistan in order to end environmental degradation in the region and protect its natural resources. Through these projects, the organization also seeks to empower the local community and contribute to a more self-sufficient population.
Though newly formed, Afghanistan Samsortya’s members and supporters have among them numerous years of experience and are well-seasoned in the local structure, climate, and society, as well as in organizational management and implementation of agro-forestry projects. The combined synergy of the individuals and groups involved means that the projects of the Afghanistan Samsortya are operationally viable at the community level. Through the expertise and participation of its leadership, Board of Directors, and local community participants, as well as other supporters, the organization is linked with the community and has ties to strategic individuals and groups at the local level, the district level, and the provincial level. These important networks afford the organization recognition and the feasibility to develop and implement successful community development projects. Also, very importantly, local standing and alliances allow the organization’s staff to operate safely.
The initiatives developed and implemented by Afghanistan Samsortya will significantly revive the natural environment of the region. Also, a number of the residents of Surkhrud district will gain employment in the nurseries. A third anticipated consequence of the project is that it will link Surkhrud district with other regions of Afghanistan. This is important as most development initiatives take place in the confines of their specific districts. In the near future, the nurseries of the Afghanistan Samsortya will provide saplings to Afghanistan’s public gardens to other locations throughout the country. In addition, Ningrahar Province is geographically close to the volatile border of Pakistan, and stability in this area will have great strategic importance for stability of the country.
Established in Boston, Massachusetts in 2008, Afghanistan Samsortya is a non-profit organization that utilizes local labor and skills, together with international expertise and resources, to undertake projects in agro-forestry in Surkhrud district. Specific projects include the development of nurseries, introduction of higher quality species of trees to the region, and the re-population of deforested regions with trees. Crucial to this undertaking is a focus on creating awareness about the environment and the needs of the local community, training people to plant and take care of the trees, and providing them with the resources needed to accomplish this task.
Traditionally, Afghan society has been an agrarian society and 80 percent of the population’s sole form of employment has been on prosperous farms, vineyards and forests. However, as a result of nearly three decades of war and political unrest, as well as drought, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of existing forests and fruit orchards have been destroyed. The land is no longer able to support the agriculture that once sustained 80% of Afghanistan in terms of food needs, accounted for 50% of the country's GDP, and contributed to Afghanistan’s self sufficiency in food production. These conditions cause extensive human misery and have devastating consequences for the country’s economy and environment. For example, the country has lost its most precious indigenous natural resources, and the population relies heavily upon imported fruit and wood, leading to dependency on neighboring countries.
Afghanistan Samsortya has emerged as a result of significant field research, including discussions with local community elders and professionals, through which initiatives are designed as a response to real needs felt and expressed by the people on the ground. The expertise and participation of numerous individuals with decades of experience in farming and environmental restoration has been utilized. The success of the community development projects will only be known through the organization’s successful implementation of the first nursery. As local animators, this crucial community mobilization will have further repercussions in that the reforestation projects in Surkhrud district will serve as an excellent capacity building experience and will be replicated elsewhere in the country at the regional and sub-regional level.
Surkhrud district is a region comprised of individuals who are largely destitute and live in a country embroiled in war and violence. Often the best that can be hoped for in such an environment is basic survival. Yet, it is very clear that communities need hope and an opportunity to envision an improved tomorrow, one where they and their children can do more than simply survive, but thrive. Afghanistan Samsortya seeks to provide this hope through pursuit of its mission and implementation of the projects that are so vital for the future of this region. We are grateful to the New Forests Project for their contribution of 5 kilo of excellent species of tree seeds. In order to establish our first nursery we must have access to water. Therefore, our first project is the construction of a bore hole. Due to the altitude of the region and the many years of drought the most reliable source of water for irrigation purposes requires the construction of a bore hole, and the cost is estimated at $7,500.