Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does the name of the organization mean?

Samsortya  means revitalization, ie. revitalization of the environment in Pashto, the local language.

2. What is the mission of this organization?

The Afghanistan Samsortya is committed to developing and implementing reforestation projects in Afghanistan that empower the local community to reverse  the environmental degradation which has been a consequence of decades of war and drought. 

3. Where are we located?

Our community development reforestation project is located in Eastern Afghanistan.  The province is Ningrahar and the District is Surkhrud.  Surkhrud is located 15 miles away from Jalalabad City.

4. How did this organization come about?

This is a result of the collaboration between members of the community who were deeply concerned about the environmental degradation in their region and wanted to mobilize and protect their environment’s natural resources, and Afghan people living abroad.

5. What initiatives does this organization seek to implement?

Through the implementation of the community development reforestation project, the organization also seeks to empower the local community and contribute to a more self-sufficient population by planting five species of fast-growing, drought resistant trees.

6. What are the characteristics of the environment where this organization is working?

Ningrahar Province is similar to other regions of the country in that the population and the environment have suffered through nearly three decades of war and violence.  Often, the most that the population can hope for in such an environment is basic survival.  However, the courageous residents of Surkhrud District have joined forces and collaborated that they will transform their environment.  Theirs is a story of courage that such 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.

7. What is The Afghanistan Samsortya’s first project?

Our first project is to establish a tree nursery.  We have allocated a 20-acre piece of community land for this purpose.  This 20 acre will be our primary nursery.  We plan to nurture our tree saplings here and transplant them elsewhere where they are needed in the community.

8. What are the characteristics of the land that is being reforested? 

We currently have 1,000 acres of community land.  The land consists is divided into the following categories: land consisting of agricultural quality, desert quality, and the face of a mountain that may be potentially reforested.

9. What type of resources exists in our community?

Our most valuable resource is the people of the district, aware of the existing challenges and full of energy and hope.  Our reforestation project is a community-generated idea.  We have established networks in the community at the local level, the district level, and the provincial level, and provided training in tree nursery skills.  Community members are committed to revitalizing agro-forestry  in their  community so that refugees can return home. 

Our second resource is vast tracts of community land.  Samsortya has 1,000 acres of arable land committed for tree growth in the Surkrhud District of eastern Afghanistan.

10. What type of skills exists in Surkhrud District?

Traditionally the people of this district are farmers.  Therefore, they have farming skills, and vast knowledge of their environment, passed from generation to generation.

11. What is needed to successfully implement our community development reforestation project?

We need to connect our local skills and knowledge with financial resources, assistance on the construction of wells, and expertise on agro-forestry.
12. Who will benefit from this project?

It is our belief that every single member of the population of the province will benefit. Also, it is our belief that reforestation benefits everyone on Earth

Planting trees will improve the quality of the natural environment and prevent further environmental degradation.  Local farmers whose lands have been destroyed by years of neglect and misuse will finally have an opportunity to utilize their land, many will have job opportunities as a result of this project. The ancient knowledge about local farming techniques will not be lost.  In addition, women without a means to support themselves will have an opportunity to work in the nurseries to earn a living for themselves and their children, and become active participants in the development of their country.

13. What are the future prospects of the organization?

In the future, our efforts regarding specific projects will include the development of nurseries, introduction of higher quality species of trees to the region, and the re-population of deforested regions with trees. The most important aspect of this undertaking is a focus on creating awareness about the environment and the needs of the local community.  The Afghanistan Samsortya is determined to train people to plant and take care of the trees, and providing them with the resources needed to accomplish this task

14. Does the organization seek to connect to other communities?

The Afghanistan Samsortya is actively seeking collaboration with other communities around the world, such as farming communities, environmental groups, utilizing innovative farming technologies.

The Afghanistan Samsortya and the Surkhrud community are very interested in development that is organic and environmentally responsible.  We are looking for opportunities to learn about and implement alternatives to traditional sources of energy, such as harnessing wind and solar power.

15. What is the needs assessment for this project?

Historically, the Afghan society has been an agrarian society and 90 percent of the population’s sole form of employment has been on farms, vineyards and forests. 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.  

16. Are there Implications for other regions of the country?

As local animators, this crucial community mobilization will have great potential impact.  The Surkhrud district community reforestation project will serve as great capacity building experience and will be replicated elsewhere in the country at the regional and sub-regional level.


For more information please contact:
Mariam Raqib, Director, The Afghanistan Samsortya