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STA # 8: The role of opium as a livelihood strategy for the retunees

STA # 8: The role of opium as a livelihood strategy for the retunees
undp.un.org.pk/undcp/sst8.htm

PREFACE

The Strategic Studies Series

One of UNDCP’s principle objectives is to strengthen international action against illicit drug production. In Afghanistan, its principle objective is to reduce and eventually eliminate existing and potential sources of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) cultivation. It is recognised that in order to achieve this there is a need to further the understanding of the diversity of conditions and priorities that different socio-economic and spatial groups take into account when making decisions about their involvement in opium poppy cultivation.

The Strategic Study Series is one of the tools by which UNDCP intends to document the process of lesson learning within the ongoing Afghanistan Programme. Studies in this series focus on issues that are considered to be of strategic importance to improving the design of current and future alternative development initiatives in Afghanistan. Information collection for these studies is undertaken by UNDCP Drug Control Monitoring System (AFG/C27) in close coordination with the ongoing presence and project activities of UNDCP’s Poppy Crop Reduction Project (AFG/C28). Recognising the inherent problems associated with undertaking research into the drugs issue in Afghanistan, emphasis is given to verifying findings through systematic information-gathering techniques and methodological pluralism. As such, the Studies have been undertaken in an interactive manner and seek to consolidate preliminary findings with further fieldwork. It is envisaged that this approach will allow parallel or longitudinal studies to be undertaken which access both the changes in opium poppy cultivation and lives and livelihoods amongst different socio-economic, gender and spatial groups over the lifetime of the Afghanistan programme.

It is hoped that these Strategic Studies will be an integral part of the regional study, ‘The Dynamics of the Illicit OpIndustry in South West Asia’ scheduled to be published and disseminated in early 2001. The purpose of this regional study would be to: (i) set in their correct context the illicit drugs situation in South West Asia for the donor community and address issues of interest to their development agendas, including poverty, health, gender and the environment; (ii) for UNDCP to identify ‘best practice’ in the design and implementation of alternative development, law enforcement and demand reduction initiative

Eight strategic studies (including the present one), have been completed to date (October 2000). One Strategic Study remains to be completed. These include the following:

· An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of the Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan. Three Studies: No 1 -June 1998: No.5-November 1999: No. 7 -Survey in April printed in October 2000.

· The Dynamics of the Farm-gate Opium Trade and Coping strategies of Opium Traders.

One Study: No. 2 - October 1998.

· The Role of Opium as a Source of Informal Credit. One Study No. 2. January 1999

· The Role of Women in Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan. Study: No.6 -June 1999

· Access to Labour: The Role of Opium in the Livelihood Strategies of Itinerant Harvesters Working in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Study: No.4. June 1999

· The Role of Women in Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan and the Consequences Arising from its Replacement for Women’s Economic and Social Standing. Study No.6. June 2000.

· The Role of Opium as a Livelihood Strategy for Returnees. Study No.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTRODUCTI

This Study was proposed as the result of the increase, expansion and apparent spread of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan over the last three seasons, which appears to have coincided with significant refugee return. This was particularly noted in the case of Azra district in Logar. This Study shows that the situation is not simple and before concluding any direct correlation between the returnees and their possible adoption of opium production as a livelihood option, the particular conditions and circumstances in which this is likely to take place must be thoroughly understood. UNHCR estimates that since 1989 as many as 4.5 million refugees have returned to their country. On the whole only those returning to certain areas have adopted poppy cultivation. The majority are not cultivating poppy despite facing many of the same war induced problems. In certain instances, however, the start of poppy cultivation in areas where it had not hitherto been cultivated does appear to have coincided with the return of both refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In order to better understand the correlation, if any, between returnees and their adoption of poppy cultivation as a livelihood option, this Study has focused attention on five districts in eastern Afghanistan to which refugees have been returning steadily over the last eight years. In three of these districts opium poppy cultivation started as an apparently new phenomenon in the last three seasons, Azra in Logar, Tagab in Kapisa and Sarobi in Kabul. In two of the selected districts,Kakh i Jabbar in Kabul and Mohammad Agha in Logar, opium poppy is neither being cultivated nor appears to be considered as a livelihood option. The Study explains why particular linkages and experiences, combined with economic circumstances, have made the returning populations of the first three districts particularly inclined to adopt poppy cultivation, while those returning to Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Aga show no inclination to cultivate the crop. All returnees face much the same set of problems.

The Study has been conducted against a background of the increasingly pervasive drought in Afghanistan and the most recent Taliban ban on opium poppy, apparently the firmest to date.

OBJECTIVES

This Strategic Study seeks to build on and complement previous field work and studies undertaken in 1998, 1999 and earlier this year to further UNDCP’s understanding of the structural and motivational factors that lie behind drug crop production in Afghanistan. In particular this Study was formulated to address three main objectives as per the TOR attached.

· To further UNDCP’s understanding of the structural and motivational factors that may influence returning refugees to adopt opium poppy cultivation as part of their livelihood strategies.

· To propose a joint policy framework on targeting assistance to returnees in those areas affected by opium poppy cultivation.

· To provide the basis for alternative approaches to ensure secure settlements by which the returnees will avoid cultivating illicit crops.

METHODOLOGY

The Study is based on a survey carried out in five districts in eastern Afghanistan, involving a total of 113 semi-structured interviews, carried out between 12thSeptember and 4th October in 84 communities (best defined by the Afghan term karia). In Azra 20 interviews were conducted in 17 karia, in Tagab 20 interviews in 15 karia, in Sarobi 22 interviews in 21 karia, in Khak I Jabbar 20 interviews in 7 karia and in Mohammad Agha 31 interviews in 24 karia. These were backed up by group discussions, both with returnees in Afghanistan and, in early October, in refugee camps in Pakistan with ‘the other half’ of extended families, some of whom have returned while some remain as refugees.

MAIN FINDING

Returnees (refugees and IDPs) do not necessarily consider the cultivation of opium poppy as one of their livelihood options, even when facing the same problems as those who do. The Study shows, however, that the presence of the following factors, often in combination, increases the tendency for returnees (refugees and IDPs) to adopt opium cultivation as a livelihood strategy:

· prior experience of, and / or exposure to, poppy cultivation.

· historical connections with hard-core poppy growing districts which act as primary

sources of ‘influence and contamination’

The Study shows, despite possible previous assumptions to the contrary, that

· Poppy cultivation is not necessarily seen as a primary livelihood option by returnees

at the time of returning, even though they may already possess the necessary skills.

· Recent returnees appear to behave no differently in the way they adopt poppy cultivation than those who returned some years previously or those who never left.

· There appears to be little difference in the process of adoption in the areas studied between small land-owners, larger land owners, tenants or share croppers and lease-holders. Although some larger landowners are cultivating poppy others are against it.

· A catalyst is usually required to trigger off the process of adoption, for instance, increased economic stress caused by certain events, often in combination, such as: a sudden flush of returnees placing additional pressure on limited land resources; the collapse of the market for a more traditional local crop; the perceived absence or even the destruction of economically viable alternatives.

· The factors that subsequently reinforce the adoption of poppy are sociological as well as economic in character. After the first introduction of poppy to an area there tends to be a period of community and individual observation and consideration before the practice becomes more generally adopted. Recent returnees follow this observed norm.

· Communities (including returnees) not yet economically dependent on opium poppy may be more easily persuaded to stop or reduce production if faced with strong opposition or if other conditions are unfavourable.

· Almost all respondents in Azra, Tagab, and Sarobi stated that they will not cultivate poppy in the coming season, because of either the Taliban ban on poppy or the drought, or both.

· Certain ‘hard core’ districts are significant sources of ‘influence and contamination’ in the expansion of poppy cultivation to other areas and the Study clearly points to particular districts in Nangahar as major sources of ‘influence and contamination’.

· By considering the situation in two non-poppy growing districts, the Study shows that certain sets of returnees appear to be very resistant to the idea of adopting opium production. This is usually combined with the apparent absence of connections with ‘hard core’ poppy districts, or any ‘poppy experience’. This was the case in Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, despite similar war related problems to Azro, Tagab and Sarobi.

· In Kakh i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha returnees are concentrating their attention on more legally acceptable agricultural livelihood options that offer the best market opportunities for their locality and environment. These include a variety of crops and fruit, but not opium.

· Many returnees deliberately leave part of their extended family behind in the country of refuge and maintain the livelihood advantages of an expanded economic base. This may be essential, when family size is beyond the livelihood capacity of limited land holdings and is often assisting the rehabilitation of the home base.

· Though many rural Afghans of all types are vaguely aware of the United Nations wish to reduce opium poppy production, few have a detailed understanding of its exact nature. None perceived the UN as a deciding factor influencing them to reduce or stop cultivating poppy.

· Addiction to hard drugs, such as heroin now occurring in Afghan rural communities where

it was previously only a very rare occurrence. This is not part of this Study’s findings but it is mentioned because it relates mainly to returnees, and a recent UNDCP study has found evidence of it in Azra. Addiction is no longer ‘Someone else’s problem.’

CONCLUSIONS

The Study concludes that the return of refugees and displaced populations and the expansion of poppy cultivation have no general direct correlation. The fact that several million refugees have already returned to many parts of Afghanistan without cultivating poppy is proof of this. There is often a significant time lapse between the return of refugees and IDPs to their communities and their initial adoption of the crop. However, in certain situations and localities, given particular connections and experiences and subject to certain economic circumstances, there does appear to be a correlation between some returning populations and the adoption of poppy cultivation. This applies as much to new returnees as to those who never left or who have been resettled for some years. Each set of circumstances needs to be understood and recognised when planning a programme to ‘promote’ or ‘facilitate’ the return of refugees or internally displaced populations, or which involves any drug related programme of alternative development. Each situation will be unique and a ‘one fits all’approach is unlikely to work.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan is now the largest producer of illegal opium in the World[1], production is still confined to a few areas and districts. However, the number of localities and the total area where opium is now produced are both increasing. Through studying the processes by which poppy cultivation recently started in three districts, Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, the Study identified a number of historical connections, experiences and economic imperatives that made the people of these districts and their returning populations particularly susceptible to adopting opium production, when conditions favoured it. The Study also provides some indication of the processes by which the adoption of poppy gains social acceptance, and conversely, which may lead to a rejection of the practice. It goes some way to explaining why returnees to Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha districts do not appear to be interested in cultivating poppy, despite having the same war related experiences.

By throwing additional light on the subject it is hoped to assist in improving the quality, content and effectiveness of future collaborative initiatives aimed at‘promoting’ or ‘facilitating’ the return of refugees and IDPs to Afghanistan, while avoiding the danger of them adopting opium production as a livelihood option.

RECOMMENDATIONS

UNDCP and UNHCR must collaborate closely in the design of any programme that either ‘promotes’ or ‘facilitates’ the repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan, together with all other agencies involved. (See foot note on UNHCR approach and terminology in Main Study, Recommendations.) This is particularly important when there is a risk of returnees starting to cultivate poppy, or where there is a danger of the spread of addiction. Any programme or project design must meet the following criteria:

· A thorough understanding of the communities concerned, their history, social economy, associations with established poppy areas, and possible susceptibilities to adopting poppy.

· A thorough understanding and sensitivity to processes that lead certain communities to adopt opium production as an option.

· An understanding of the socio-economic and other forces that may lead either to discouraging communities and returnees from adopting poppy cultivation, or to their abandoning the practice.

· A thorough assessment of the potential for supporting the development of attractive alternative livelihood options to poppy cultivation

This Study indicates that it is often not possible to separate members of large extended families simply into ‘refugees’ and ‘returned’. UNHCR in collaboration with UNDCP must take this into account in any project design, as any return programme and any awareness programme must take account of both ‘halves’ of the extended family.

The Study findings indicate the ineffectiveness of the present UNDCP awareness programme in discouraging farmers from cultivating opium poppy and point to the serious need for a complete review of the present programme, the relevance of its content, and its methods of presentation.

The importance of prophylactic programmes must be recognised. For instance, had the true situation in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi been better understood it might have been possible to have designed proactive projects in a more effective and directed manner, which might have discouraged returnees and residents alike from starting to cultivate poppy. This further points to the necessity of close UNDCP collaboration with UNHCR and other technical agencies from the outset of planning and project design.

Previous Strategic Studies have stressed the need for long term, labour intensive programmes that would provide alternative income to opium poppy for returning refugees. This Study agrees with the concept whilst recognizing the difficulty of finding donors.

Projects aimed at improving the storage, preservation and marketing of perishable but potentially high value crops such as fruit and vegetables should be carefully considered

The drought and the Taliban ban appear to be discouraging farmers and returnees in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi from sowing poppy this autumn. This provides an opportunity for UNDCP, in collaboration with other UN agencies, such as FAO and appropriate NGOs, to initiate interventions likely to reinforce this apparent retreat from poppy cultivation.

It is necessary to support local leadership as well as sincere government initiatives that condemn poppy cultivation and drug production. Local community leadership opposed to poppy cultivation is likely to prove more sustainable than government directive

Great care must be taken of how and where food aid is distributed at this time of drought. UNDCP must work closely with WFP and other agencies involved in emergency food aid programmes, lest it encourage Afghan communities to plant poppy rather than food crops

This Study has covered only five districts and cannot claim to be definitive. Similar studies should be carried out in the South West, North East and in the Northern Provinces.

THE MAIN STUDY

1.0. INTRODUCTION

UNHCR estimates that in the late 1980s there were as many as 6.2 million Afghan refugees mainly in Pakistan and Iran, as well as possibly 1.5 million internally displaced within Afghanistan. Subsequent internecine fighting created additional refugees and internally displaced. Nonetheless, UNHCR estimate that since 1989 as many as 4.5 million refugees have returned to their country and claim that over 3 million of these have either been assisted or individually counted by UNHCR as they returned. Repatriation peaked in 1992 after the fall of the communist regime in Kabul, with an estimated 1.9 million refugees repatriating in the space of 8 months that year.[2] Despite the continuing civil war, refugees have continued to return since then, to wherever there is peace. UNHCR estimate that between 70,000 and 100,000 refugees are repatriating annually.[3] As no precise data exists, or was available to this study, to indicate what percentage of these returnees have adopted opium production as a livelihood option it is beyond the scope of the Study to provide it. However, as is clearly shown in UNDCP’s annual surveys, poppy cultivation is mainly restricted to certain specific locations and districts in Afghanistan and it is primarily refugees returning to these well identified locations who are most likely to adopt the practice.

In 1997 UNHCR instituted a new strategy, focused on refugees in Pakistan, known as ‘Targeted group repatriation’. This involved targeting groups of refugees returning to specific sets of rural communities. By November 1998 UNHCR claimed to have ‘facilitated’ the repatriation of 16,462 refugees from 16 different distinct groups. Among the areas targeted were the district of Azra[4] in Logar province and the villages of Tezin in Sarobi. Shortage of funds brought this phase of the programme to an end, but in 1999/2000, the original ‘Joint Reintegration Programme for Azra and Tezin’, was followed up by the‘Greater Azra Initiative’, both funded by the Government of Japan.[5] The latter included additional districts. A follow up monitoring system was established in 1998, which reported that 84% of returning families under this programme had been safely re-established. Of these, 30% had spent between 16 and 20 years as refugees. On the negative side, it was found that refugees had returned to villages and districts where services and facilities of every kind were either non- existent or minimal. In certain instances it was also found that returning refugees started to cultivate opium poppy, as in the case of Azra, where poppy cultivation began in a small way in the 1997/98 season but has expanded since.

This Study was proposed as the result of the increase, expansion and apparent spread of poppy cultivation over the last three seasons, which appears to have coincided with significant refugee return, as noted in Azra. In other instances resident farmers who had undertaken not to cultivate poppy under‘conditionality’ agreements signed with UN agencies, blamed continued poppy cultivation on newly returned families. This prompted the questions, ‘Is there a direct relationship between the advent of commercial poppy cultivation in Azra, Tagab, Sarobi and other districts and the recent return of refugees ? Do they consider this an essential part of their livelihood strategy?’

The Study focused attention on five districts in eastern Afghanistan to which refugees have been returning steadily in the last eight years. In three of these opium poppy cultivation started as an apparently new phenomenon in the last three seasons, Azra in Logar, Tagab in Kapisa and Sarobi in Kabul. In two of the districts selected, Kakh i Jabbar in Kabul and Mohammad Agha in Logar, opium poppy is not being cultivated.

This Study goes some way to explain why certain historical, social and commercial connections and experiences combined with economic circumstances made the rural populations of Azra, Tagab and Sarobi particularly susceptible to adopting poppy cultivation. This includes not only returning refugees and displaced families, but also those who have been re-established for some years, and those who never left. It also goes on to compare the situation in these three districts with that of Khak i Jabbar in Kabul and Mohammad Aga in Logar where, despite facing most of the same problems, returning refugees are not cultivating opium poppy nor show any indications of wishing to do so.

The conclusion is that, in general terms, the return of refugees and displaced populations and the expansion of poppy cultivation do not in themselves have any direct correlation. It is clear that several million refugees have already returned to many parts of Afghanistan without showing any inclination to cultivate poppy. However, in certain situations and localities, given particular historical and social connections coupled with certain experiences and subject to economic circumstances, there appears to be a strong correlation between some returning populations and poppy cultivation. These need to be understood and recognised, particularly when planning any programme that either ‘promotes’ or ‘facilitates’ the return of refugees or the internally displaced, or involves any drug related programme of alternative development. Each situation is likely to be unique and a ‘one fits all’ approach to these situations is unlikely to work.

This Study has been conducted against the background of an increasingly pervasive drought in Afghanistan combined with the recent Taliban ban on opium poppy cultivation and opium production, the firmest yet pronounced. This is the season (October /November) when farmers growing poppy in eastern and south western Afghanistan must decide how much of their land they will sow to poppy and how much to wheat and other autumn sown crops.

2.0. OBJECTIVES

This Study seeks to build on and complement previous field work and studies undertaken in 1998, 1999 and earlier this year to further UNDCP’s understanding of the structural and motivational factors that lie behind drug crop production in Afghanistan. In particular it was formulated to meet three main objectives (see Annex 10, Terms of Reference)

· To further UNDCP’s understanding of the structural and motivational factors that may influence returning refugees to adopt opium poppy cultivation as part of their livelihood strategies.

· To propose a joint policy framework on targeting assistance to returnees in those areas affected by opium poppy cultivation.

· To provide the basis for alternative approaches to ensure secure settlements by which the returnees will avoid cultivating illicit crops.

3. METHODOLOGY

In order to further UNDCP’s understanding of the structural and motivational factors that influence certain returning refugees to start cultivating poppy, while others do not, the Study concentrated attention on five districts in eastern Afghanistan, to all of which a significant number of refugees have returned in recent years. In three of these districts, Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, the cultivation of opium poppy as an apparently new crop has started within the last three years. In two districts, Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, returning refugees have not started to cultivate poppy nor show any inclination to do so.[6]

The Study is based on a total of 113 semi-structured interviews conducted between 12th September and 11th October 2000, in the month prior to when farmers in these areas would normally sow their poppy crop. In the interests of obtaining a balanced view, interviews were carried out not only with farmers who have recently returned to their home villages, but also with those who have never left, or who have been re-settled for some years. Also included were some community leaders, when these could be identified.

Box 1: Summary of number of interviews and survey dates

· Khakh I Jabbar in Kabul : (No poppy cultivation) Survey 12th to 13th September.

Number of ‘karia’[7] visited: 7. Number of interviews: 20

· Tagab in Kapisa: (Poppy cultivation started in 1997) Survey 14th to 20th September.

Number of ‘karia’ visited: 15. Number of interviews: 20

· Sarobi in Kabul: (Poppy cultivation started 1997) Survey 17th to 25th September.

Number of ‘karia’ visited: 21. Number of interviews: 22

· Azra in Logar: (Poppy cultivation started in 1997) Survey 20th to 27th September.

Number of ‘karia [8] visited: 17. Number of interviews: 20

· Mohammad Aga in Logar: (No poppy cultivation) Survey 3rd to 11th October.

Number of ‘karia’ visited: 24. Number of interviews 31

Mission of international consultant to Azra, Hesarak, Sarobi and Mohammad Agha,

and to refugee camps, 27th September to 4th October

The survey was carried out by a team of three experienced Afghan surveyors, including the Survey Team Leader, and one assistant. On 20th September an international consultant joined the team, to assist with the survey analysis and the preparation of the strategic study. By this time the survey was already completed except in Mohammad Agha district. The consultant went on mission to Afghanistan with the survey team leader between 27th September and 4th October, visiting four of the selected districts (not Tagab due to security problems). They later visited two refugee camps outside Peshawar, Jangali and Badaber No.3, in order to meet representatives of Azra families who are still refugees.

The Study explored the relationship between refugee resettlement and opium poppy cultivation. It also sought to identify different ways in which the important needs of the returnees might be addressed. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, emphasis was placed on conducting informal, semi-structured interviews focusing on the nature of land-tenure and land-ownership, labour arrangements, cultivation customs, availability of resources and the determination and prioritization of needs. A formal questionnaire was not used while conducting interviews. Instead the interviewers focused on the key issues, which were discussed in a conversational manner, and survey forms were completed and written up later once the interviews had been concluded. Emphasis was given to conducting in-depth interviews over as wide a geographical area as possible to assist in identifying generic issues that might be explored in other areas during subsequent stages of the study. A minimum of twenty interviews were undertaken in each district, providing wide geographical coverag

Interviews were conducted with farmers who has settled before the opium poppy cultivation season of 1999/2000, and consideration was given to interviewing refugees who had cultivated opium poppy for two or three years, as well as those who had only just started. This was considered important in order to analyze the adoption process and progress as it relates to poppy cultivation as a livelihood strategy.

The five districts selected for this Study were verified and agreed with UNHCR prior to starting the survey and are all areas to which refugees have been returning steadily over the past eight years. As far as accurate information exists, UNHCR was able to provide their latest official district figures for refugee returns for 1999 and part of 2000, including numbers of families and individuals. With the exception of Azra and to some extent Khak i Jabbar, only a minority of returnees had been facilitated to return by UNHCR. It has to be accepted that official data can only be indicative at best and there is considerable informal, unrecorded and continuous cross flow of family members between their home villages and (for the most part) Pakistan. According to UNHCR, “about 12,000 refugees returned to the ghost villages of Azra and Tezin” in 1998.[9]

The best that can be said is that after the destruction of the war years and the flight of the population, starting in the late 1970s and early 1980’s, the districts included in this study are now once again well populated, agricultural land is to a large extent back in cultivation and considerable progress has been made on the reconstruction of dwellings. Out of 113 individuals interviewed, 98 were returnees, who had either been refugees or internally displaced, and who had returned to their villages between 1992 and 2000. Fifteen had never left their villages and 5 were returning only seasonally. Many of those interviewed still had part of their extended families living and working in Pakistan or elsewhere.

4.0 MAIN FINDINGS

Each of the five districts included in this Study has its own unique character. They are therefore reviewed separately and in detail in five ‘Thematic Annexes’[10]. The summaries of main survey data are shown in Tables 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Main Survey Data Annex 1.

The Study relates the survey results to the agriculture, geography and recent social history of these areas, the flight of most of their populations and their return home. It considers the historical and socio-economic connections and experiences that appear to have made returnees to certain districts more susceptible than others to adopting opium production as an acceptable alternative livelihood option. In doing so it is possible to indicate some of the reasons why opium poppy cultivation has been adopted by returning refugees in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi and why refugees returning to the districts of Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha have not shown any inclination to cultivate opium poppy. The Study also shows how returning refugees are no more or less likely to choose the poppy option than those who never left their village, or who returned some years earlier. The Study indicates that neither returning refugees nor IDPs can be seen separately or in a different context to the total community of which they are an intrinsic part

All five districts have shared a common experience over the past twenty years. All have seen their villages and settlements extensively destroyed and their populations disbursed as refugees to neighbouring countries or internally displaced, usually for many years. All have been subject to the effects of national disintegration, lack of good governance and the collapse of most of the normal institutions of state, trade and industry. All have been subject to the multitude of new experiences and influences gained as refugees. Many have been settled in the same sets of camps in Pakistan. Since the resumption of local peace and security each of these districts has experienced a substantial return of population. These have had to face the same set of problems, including the rehabilitation of their irrigation systems, the return of their land to cultivation and the reconstruction of their ruined villages and dwellings. All share the problems of an inflated population and small, fragmented land holdings. In all five districts the majority have at some time been either refugees or internally displaced and have returned at some time over the past eight years. It should be born in mind that, taking Afghanistan as a whole, it is the two districts that are not cultivating opium poppy that still correspond to the norm, and not the other way round.

The UNDCP Afghanistan Annual Opium Poppy Survey 2000 indicates that between the 1999 and 2000 seasons, there was an overall decrease of a little less than 10% in the cultivation of opium poppy, from 90,983 hectares to 82,172 hectares. This was largely due to the effects of the drought in some of the main poppy growing districts, particularly in the south western provinces. Nonetheless Afghanistan is still the largest producer of illegal opium in the World and at the same time 21 new sets of communities and districts were observed cultivating opium poppy this year, 15 of them in the northern provinces. In some districts, a steady increase was observed, in particular in some of the areas into which poppy cultivation had expanded only in recent years. This included the three districts of Azra, Tagab and Sarobi in this Study. [11]

Table 1: Increase in poppy area (UNDCP Poppy Survey

Azra 1997/98: 4 ha. 1998/99: 29 ha. x 7.25 1999/2000: 46 ha. x 1.6

Tagab 1997/98: nil 1998/99: 5 ha. 1999/2000: 104 ha. x 20.8

Sarobi 1997/98: No official record 1998/99: 132 ha. 1999/2000: 340 ha. x 2.

In the case of Azra, opium poppy was first observed in 1998, having been sown in the autumn of 1997. It was estimated in that year as 4 hectares. By the next season, 1998, this had increased to an estimated 29 hectares and in 2000 to 46 hectares. In Tagab, opium poppy was observed for the first time in 1999, with an estimated 5 hectares, which had increased to an estimated 104 hectares in 2000. In Sarobi opium poppy cultivation is recorded first in 1999, with an estimated 132 hectares, but as the survey indicates poppy was being cultivated to some extent earlier than that, certainly from the 1997/98 season and possibly continuously in upper Uzbin. In 2000 an estimated 340 hectares was recorde

At the present time, as reflected by responses recorded in the survey carried out for this Study, there are indications of an increasing disinclination to cultivate opium poppy in the forthcoming season on the part of many previous poppy cultivators in Azro, Tagab and Sarobi. This appears to be due to a combination of factors, among which the most significant are the current Taliban ban in the case of all three districts, and a combination of the drought and the Taliban ban in the case of Tagab and Sarobi. Azra is not yet suffering so seriously from the drought. Other contributory factors are the rather poor results obtained by many farmers from their last opium harvest, and the fall in the price of opium earlier this year. However, this season prices are expected to increase if production falls. A combination of the drought and the ban may lead to a fall in opium production in these three districts in the forthcoming year, as indicated in these surveys

In the case of Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha districts, no opium poppy is recorded as having been cultivated and the surveys carried out in these two districts indicate not only that poppy is not being considered as a livelihood option by either recently returned refugees or the longer established population, but also that there is a strong social prejudice against the cultivation of this crop in these communities.

Refugee and IDP Returns to Target Districts.

The main periods of significant return were after 1992, when the Mujahideen groups took Kabul, and then again after 1996, when the Taliban took Kabul and effectively brought an end to the Commanders’ war for the control of the capital started in 1993/94. However, depending on local security there has in fact been a steady return of refugees all through the period 1992 up to the present time and this is reflected by the surveys. Families who were internally displaced by the Commanders’ war mainly returned in 1997 and 1998. This applies particularly to Tagab, where many families were temporarily settled in camps in Nangarhar, after being displaced by internecine fighting in 1994/95. As far as the Study relates to refugees ‘facilitated’ to return by UNHCR, this mainly applies to Azra and the 1997 /1998 returnees. A few returnees to Khak i Jabbar were facilitated by UNHCR in 1998. (See Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 32).

Land Tenure Categories found in the Survey districts, related where relevant to poppy.

(For descriptive details of Afghan Land Tenure categories see Instrumental Annex 1)

The majority of respondents interviewed in the districts surveyed were the owners of their own land, 87 out of 113 or 77%. Out of 56 respondents cultivating poppy (in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi only), 50 were cultivating their own land, or 89.3%. In the total survey, in addition to land owners, only one was a tenant / share cropper, but 13 out of 113, or 11.5%, were leasing land. Others were land owners, who were share cropping 50:50 or leasing land in addition to their own land, 12 respondents or 10.6%. This mainly applied in Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, with 1 respondent in Sarobi. It should be noted, however, that particularly in Sarobi, a few poppy growers among the larger land owners had made 50:50 share agreements with professional poppy growers from Nangarhar (Khogiani and Hesarak), though other larger land owners, especially village maliks, did not grow poppy and disapproved. (For details see Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 33.

Size of Agricultural Land Holdings in Survey Districts.

In all five districts most of the respondents were small farmers, farming their own land. Out of 113 respondents; 96 or 85% were farming between 1 and 5jeribs of land (1 jerib = 1/5 hectare), with 72 or 63.7% of these farming between 1 and 3 jeribs. This applied equally to respondents cultivating poppy in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi and those not cultivating poppy, mainly in Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha. In the latter two districts there appears to be a greater tendency for small land owners to lease or sharecrop additional land, to supplement their own limited holdings. Only a comparatively few respondents were farming more than 10 jeribs, 8 out of 113 or 7.1%. (See Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 34.)

Size and proportion of agricultural land allocated to opium poppy.

The surveys carried out in these three districts indicate that individual areas of land sown to poppy seldom exceed 0.5 of a jerib. Out of a total of 57 respondents cultivating poppy, 28 or 45% were cultivating 0.5 jeribs, 23 or 37.2% were cultivating between 0.2 and 0.25 jeribs, with only 4 respondents or 6.5% cultivating 1 jerib, one cultivating 2 jeribs and 1, 10 jeribs with sharecroppers. (See Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 35.)

Percentage of agricultural land allotted to opium poppy.

The survey indicates that of the 57 poppy growing respondents the majority were cultivating poppy on between 8.25 % and 25% of their land, with most of these, 23 or 37%, allotting 25% of their land to poppy. A few respondents, 8 out of 57 or 12.9%, had allotted between 33% and 50% of their land to poppy. Only 1 was allotting all his land to poppy, and only in alternate years, in rotation with wheat. Other crops are still considered to be important to most farmers in these districts and a mixed farming pattern prevails. As the survey indicates, none of these communities is yet totally economically dependent on opium poppy and so they are still responsive to discontinuing the practice if encouraged to do so, by government or economic pressures or other inducements. Poppy cultivation is a comparatively recent phenomenon in these three districts and they are not yet ‘hard core’ areas. This is important to bear in mind when reviewing the findings of this Study. The danger is that the skills and experience of poppy cultivation and of trading in opium are now well established and any reduction in poppy cultivation at the present time may prove to be only temporary. (See Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 36

Main Findings of the Study are:

Returning refugees and internally displaced populations do not necessarily consider the cultivation of opium poppy as one of their livelihood options, even though most face the same problems. Since 1989 an estimated 4.5 million or more refugees and IDPs have returned to Afghanistan. Most of these have not started to cultivate opium poppy. As examples of this the Study included the districts of Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, to which many refugees have returned and where no poppy is being cultivated.

Unfortunately no precise data exists to indicate which returnees, to which districts, have adopted poppy cultivation, but it can be assumed to be mainly concentrated in those districts where poppy cultivation is concentrated .

Certain sets of returning refugees and IDPs appear to be more susceptible than others to adopting opium production as a livelihood option, when they return to their home localities in Afghanistan. This applies not only to those who return to communities already heavily dependent on opium production, but also those returning to areas where the adoption of opium poppy is, apparently, quite recent. The Study concluded that the populations of Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, both those resettled earlier and the more recent returnees, had all been sensitized to opium production prior to adopting the crop.

Susceptibility to adopting opium production as a livelihood option can generally be traced to particular historical experiences and linkages between the local population, including the returnees, and other more traditional ‘hard core’ opium producing provinces or districts. The Study revealed certain experiences and well established historical connections between the populations of Azra, Tagab and Sarobi and some of the ‘hard core’ opium producing districts in Nangarhar. A body of expertise already existed in the communities some time prior to their adopting poppy cultivation.

· In Azra: Many individuals had gained experience from working in the Nangarhar poppy fields. Also the Azra communities were already largely dependent on the commercial production of cannabis. Both these facts made them susceptible to adopting opium poppy.

· In Tagab: Many returnees had several years experience of opium poppy cultivation from working in the Nangarhar poppy fields, gained while living in the internally displaced camps near Jalalabad, in particular the camp at Samarkhel.

· In Sarobi: A combination of historical linkages and connections became apparent. These included social connections between certain Sarobi communities and Nangarhar, as well as working experience in the poppy fields and the historical local connection with a group of traditional poppy farmers in the Uzbin valley.

The survey can discern no distinct difference between the relative inclination of recently returned families and longer established families to adopt opium poppy cultivation as a livelihood option. Peer pressure and community acceptance of poppy cultivation seem to play a more important part in influencing individual families to adopt or reject poppy cultivation. The recently returned appear to be no more or less inclined to adopt the practice than their peers as summarized below. (See Annex 6: Main Survey Data, Table 37.)

· In Azra, of 20 respondents, all had started to cultivate poppy over the last three seasons, 1997/98, 1998/99 and 1999/2000. Of these only 6 had started to cultivate poppy in the year of their return, 3 in 1997 and 3 in 1998. The breakdown was as follows: 5 respondents had started cultivating poppy in 1997/98. Of these 1 had never left, 1 had returned in 1995, and 3 had returned in 1997, the same year. Eight respondents had started to cultivate poppy in 1998/99. Of these 2 had never left, 1 had returned one year earlier in 1997 and 3 had returned the same year, 1998. Seven respondents had started to cultivate poppy in 1999/2000. Of these 1 had returned seven years earlier in 1993, 1 six years earlier in 1994, 1 five years earlier in 1995, 2 three years earlier in 1997, and 2 two years earlier in 1998.

· In Tagab, of 20 respondents, 17 had started to cultivate poppy either in the 1998/99 or the 1999/2000 season. Of these only 1 returnee started to cultivate poppy the same year as he returned. The breakdown was as follows: 5 respondents started cultivating poppy in 1998/99. Of these 1 had never left, 1 had returned 2 years earlier, 1, 4 years earlier, 1, 5 years earlier and 1 had returned 6 years earlier. Twelve respondents started cultivating poppy in 1999/2000. Of these, 1 had never left, 1 had returned that same year, 2 had returned 1 year earlier, 5, 3 years earlier, 1, 5 years earlier, and 2 had returned 7 years earlier.

· In Sarobi of 22 respondents, 20 had started to cultivate poppy in the years 1997/98; 1998/99 and 1999/2000. Of these no returnees had started to cultivate poppy the same year as they returned. The actual breakdown was as follows: Only 2 respondents had started to cultivate poppy in the 1997/98 season. Neither of these had left Sarobi or been refugees. Twelve respondents had started to cultivate poppy in the 1998/99 season. Of these 4 had never left, 1 had returned six years earlier in 1992, 4 had returned four years earlier, and 3 had returned two years earlier, in 1996. Six respondents had started to cultivate poppy in the 1999/2000 season. Of these 1 had never left, 1 had returned eight years earlier in 1992; 2 had returned seven years earlier in 1993 and 2 returned to Sarobi only seasonally

From these data, no pattern is discernible to indicate that newly returning refugees in these three districts have behaved very differently from those who had never left or those who had returned several years earlier, though in Azra there seems to have been a greater tendency for the newly returned to cultivate poppy the first year they came back in 1997/98 and 1998/99. Mainly it would appear that a few start cultivation and others follow once community acceptance has been achieved and the advantages have been demonstrated.

Returnees do not necessarily start to cultivate poppy immediately after their return home, even if they already possess the skills, but this may be triggered off by certain events such as a flush of returning refugees or the collapse of the market for traditional crops. Most returnees to Azra, Tagab and Sarobi started cultivating poppy several years after returning, even when they already possessed the necessary skills. In each case a particular event or combination of events appears to have been the catalyst that triggered off the decision of a few farmers to start cultivating poppy.

· In Azra: This involved a combination of events: the flush of returning refugees in 1997/ 98 and consequent added pressure on the land; increasing pressure by the Taliban to stop cultivating cannabis on which the economy of Azra had previously relied. In addition, the high price of opium gum in 1997/98 and the attraction of higher incomes from limited land resources was an important incentive, with the added advantages of easy marketing, storage and transportation. An additional observed benefit was the improved agricultural opportunity poppy provided by permitting an earlier planting of maize from which a grain crop is now possible. This was formerly not possible when maize was planted after the wheat harvest, and only provided a crop of green fodder.

· In Tagab, the initial flush of returnees in 1997 did not trigger off the start of opium cultivation. The collapse of the onion market in 1997 and 1998 appears to have been the main catalyst, complemented by the high price of opium and its marketing, storage and transportation advantages.

· In Sarobi, the collapse of the onion market in 1998 was also an important catalyst, particularly in the Uzbin valley, where a nucleus of poppy expertise already existed. Additional forces were also at work deriving from historical linkages with Nangarhar poppy growing districts such as Behsud, Koghiani and Hisarak.

There appears to be little difference in attitudes to adopting opium poppy between returnees who are small land owners and those without land, who are either tenant/share croppers, or leaseholders. Out of a total of 62 respondents from the poppy growing districts of Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, 57 were farming their own land as small holders, 6 were leasing land, and 5 were not cultivating poppy and disapproved of the practice. There appears to be little difference in attitude between the small land owners and those leasing land. On the other hand the 3 village maliks in Tagab and the 2 in Sarobi, who are larger land owners, objected to poppy cultivation and did not cultivate themselves.

After the first introduction of poppy to an area there tends to be a period of community and individual observation and consideration before the practice becomes more generally adopted. Recent returnees follow this norm in the same way as others.

Communities (including returnees) not yet economically dependent on opium poppy may be more easily persuaded to stop or reduce production if conditions are unfavourable or if faced with strong legislation. Almost all respondents in Azra, Tagab, and Sarobi stated that they would not cultivate poppy in the coming season, because of either the Taliban ban on poppy cultivation or the drought or both. In Tagab the drought appears to be the most compelling reason, but most referred to both. The drought is not so important in Azra. Rumours abound predicting that the ‘hard core’ districts in Nangarhar may not be so easily persuaded to stop cultivating poppy and there appears to be some propaganda emanating from the traders aimed at ensuring that it is continued.

Certain ‘hard core’ opium growing districts are significant ‘sources of infection’ in the expansion of poppy cultivation to other areas. This has already been referred to in relation to the first finding described above, and the Study clearly points to some of the ‘hard core’ districts in Nangarhar as major ‘sources of infection’ from which the skills and expertise of opium production commonly extend to other areas and other communities. Any poppy eradication or reduction strategy must take the baleful influence of these ‘hard core’ communities into consideration.

Many returning refugees and displaced families deliberately leave part of their extended family behind in the place or country of refuge, in order to maintain the livelihood advantages of an expanded economic base. The Study revealed that many refugee families deliberately leave part of their extended family in Pakistan or elsewhere to take advantage of the expanded economic opportunities this provides. This is economically essential, because present family size is often beyond the capacity of limited land holdings to support. Should repatriation ever be enforced or unwisely or prematurely encouraged many Afghan rural families may be compelled to consider alternative economic options, which might include opium

Certain sets of returnees appear to be more resistant to the idea of adopting opium production. e.g. those returning to Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha districts. In neither of these two districts have either the longer established population or the more recently returned refugees shown any inclination to adopt opium poppy as a livelihood option. This is in spite of the fact that all are faced with similar problems on their return to those who do cultivate poppy. The survey team found strong social and community prejudices in these two districts against the cultivation of poppy, no experience of poppy, and an absence of any close historical, social or economic connections between their populations and the ‘hard core’ poppy districts.

Where opium poppy is not considered as a livelihood option, as in the districts of Kakh i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, returnees are concentrating their attention on more traditional and legally acceptable sets of livelihood options. In the case of these two districts, returnees are concentrating their attention on traditional legal agricultural crops and livestock production that offer the best market opportunities for their locality. In particular these include onions, potatoes and vegetables. There is also a strong interest by small and large land owners in planting fruit trees as an investment, encouraged by the results of earlier plantings which are now bearing fruit and providing a good income for their owners. It must be noted that orchards are also attracting much attention in Azra as trees provided by FAO through NGOs and planted six and seven years ago are starting to bear fruit. Livestock with fodder crops, in addition to grain production (wheat and maize plus some pulses) are important subsistence options for most returnees.

However, there is nothing particularly exceptional about these two districts, in terms of the assistance they have received, the crops and fruit they can produce or market opportunities at their disposal, that gives them any real comparative economic advantages when compared to many other districts where opium poppy is extensively cultivate. Since 1989 huge quantities of aid and assistance in the form of physical and social infrastructure, irrigation rehabilitation, and agricultural and horticultural inputs, have been provided to the main opium producing districts without apparently making any significant impact on opium cultivation. This is particularly so in the case of Nangarhar, and Kunar in the east, but also in Helmand, Qandahar, and Oruzghan in the South West. In terms of climate, soil, possibilities for growing alternative crops to opium poppy, and accessibility to markets, neither Mohammad Aga and the other districts of central Logar nor Khak i Jabbar have any significant comparative advantage over most of these other provinces which continue to specialize in illicit crops. Other reasons, based on history, sociology and tribal connections closely connected with the production and trade in opium must be sought in order to adequately explain why certain provinces, districts and communities appear to be more intransigently inclined to opium production than others.

6.0 CONCLUSIONS

The Study concludes that the return of refugees and displaced populations and the expansion of poppy cultivation have no general direct correlation. The fact that several million refugees have already returned to many parts of Afghanistan without cultivating poppy is proof of this. There is also often a significant time lapse between the return of refugees and IDPs to their communities and their initial adoption of the crop, as demonstrated in all three poppy growing communities studied. However, in certain situations and localities, given particular historical and social connections and certain experiences and subject to certain economic circumstances, there appears to be a correlation between some returning populations and the adoption of poppy cultivation. This applies equally to new returnees and to those who never left or who have been resettled for some years. Each particular set of circumstances needs to be understood and recognised when planning a programme to ‘promote’ or ‘facilitate’ the return of refugees or internally displaced populations, or which involves any drug related programme of alternative development. Each situation will be unique and a ‘one fits all’ project approach is unlikely to work.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan is now the largest producer of illegal opium in the World, production is still confined to comparatively few areas and districts, though the number of localities in which opium cultivation has been reported and the total area under cultivation are both increasing. Through studying the processes by which poppy cultivation recently started in three districts, Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, the Study identified a number of historical connections and experiences that made the people of these districts and their returning populations particularly susceptible to adopting opium production. It also identifies a number of economic and social events, often occurring simultaneously, that appear to have acted as catalysts and imperatives and have triggered off the initial cultivation of poppy in these districts in the last three seasons.

The Study helps to explain why returnees to certain other districts, such as Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha, who do not have the same historical and economic connections with ‘hard core’ poppy districts, nor the same ‘poppy experience,’ do not appear to be interested in cultivating poppy, despite facing the same problems and having had the same traumatic experiences of war and its consequences. These influences or the absence of them appear to be more significant than either relative accessibility of communities to markets, the possibility of crop diversification and substitution or the relative amount of aid and assistance that any particular set of communities has received. Certainly in South Eastern Afghanistan, provinces like Nangahar and Kunar where poppy is extensively cultivated have many of the same, if not better, advantages of climate, potential for crop and fruit production and accessibility to markets as either Mohammad Aga or Khakh i Jabbar, and have received, if anything, more assistance of all kinds from the combined UN agencies and NGO

The Study provides a better understanding of the social, economic and historical context in which opium poppy cultivation becomes an attractive livelihood option to certain communities and shows what makes some communities more susceptible than others to adopting the practice. It also provides some indication of the processes by which adoption of poppy cultivation gains social acceptance, and also conversely what events may lead to its rejection. By throwing additional light on this subject it is hoped to assist in improving the quality, content and effectiveness of future collaborative initiatives aimed at‘promoting’ and/or ‘facilitating’ the return of refugees and IDPs to their home localities in Afghanistan, while avoiding the danger of them adopting opium production as a livelihood option.

This Study also indicates that if circumstances become unfavourable, communities that have only recently adopted poppy cultivation may be discouraged comparatively easily from continuing to do so, at least in the short term. These communities are not yet economically dependent on cultivating opium as are communities in some of the ‘hard core’ areas, and their minds can be changed. The drought and the Taliban ban seem to be proving important discouraging factors in Azra, Tagab and Sarobi.

After many years of life as refugees many extended family groups of rural origin no longer depend on the agricultural resources of their home village in Afghanistan. They have often established a much wider economic base outside their community, either inside Afghanistan, or in Pakistan, Iran or elsewhere. This is usually essential, as most families have increased in numbers to such an extent over the past twenty years, that their agricultural land holdings in Afghanistan alone can no longer support them. To a great extent the rebuilding of dwellings and other reconstruction work in the home villages depends on remittances sent from abroad by members of extended family groups and this important fact should not be overlooked.

A detailed analysis of this observation and its implication for Afghan livelihoods in general, or more specifically as it might relate to the comparative vulnerability of certain categories of rural families or returnees to adopting poppy cultivation, was not possible in this work. This would require a study much more directly focused on the particular issue of extended family economics and livelihoods. Such a study would no doubt be of considerable value to a better understanding of the socio-economic dynamics of present day Afghanistan and its now widely disbursed population and is probably more in the remit of the United Nations as a whole rather than specifically that of UNDCP, except as it relates to opium production..

However, it must be noted that there is already considerable population pressure on much of the rural land in Afghanistan, particularly in areas where peace has prevailed for some time. Any additional pressure placed on limited land resources that might result from misguided or premature encouragement of refugees to return may encourage communities that are at present antipathetic to poppy cultivation to consider the option.

7.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

7.1 UNDCP and UNHCR must collaborate closely on any programme that either ‘promotes’ or ‘facilitates’ the repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan as well as with any other agencies involved. (See foot note[12]) Such collaboration might best be more formally established as a ‘Joint policy framework’ targeting assistance, alternative development and awareness programmes for both refugees and the communities to which they may return. This should include all UN technical agencies and relevant NGOs involved in providing different forms of assistance both to refugees and IDPs and the communities in Afghanistan. It must be part of UNDCP’s responsibility, as the ‘expert’ organisation on such matters, to assess the relative possible susceptibility of refugees returning in significant numbers to particular locations in Afghanistan, to the adoption of opium poppy cultivation, and to focus attention on these areas of greatest vulnerability. Scarcity of resources makes it all the more important to adopt such a focused approach.

In the event of any anticipated and sizable return of refugees to any particular set of localities

in Afghanistan, especially if it is being ‘facilitated’ by UNHCR, the advice and expertise of UNDCP must be sought from the outset, as to the relative likelihood of them adopting poppy cultivation on their return, or being put under social or economic pressure to do so. In the event of this being likely UNDCP’s direct involvement is essential in order to promote essential awareness about the social ‘risks and dangers’ involved in opium production among the returning refugees or IDPs. It is the responsibility of UNDCP to advise UNHCR, and other technical agencies involved, concerning the possible tendencies and susceptibilities of particular communities to adoption of opium poppy as a livelihood strategy, and to recommend what actions might best be taken, or assistance given, to ensure that this is avoided. This Study has highlighted some of the conditions that make it more or less likely for a particular set of refugees or IDPs to start cultivating opium poppy on their return home. There will be other conditions that apply in other places and circumstances. This highlights the necessity for UNDCP to follow up this survey with others of its kind in other areas so as to maintain its expertise in this subject.

This collaboration between UNDCP and UNHCR, as well as all other relevant technical agencies and NGOs that may be involved, must be established from the initiation of any pre-project assessment and programme or project design. This should be based on the following criteria, and avoid the weakness of the ‘one fits all’ approach that has hitherto all too often applied to alternative development programmes.

· A thorough understanding of the communities concerned, their history, social economy, association, if any, with established poppy areas, the nature of extended families’ economies, and possible tendencies or susceptibilities towards adopting poppy cultivation, as an essential prerequisites to any project design.

· A thorough understanding and sensitivity of the imperatives that may lead certain communities to consider adopting opium production as an option, the possible sources of influence and the social processes by which the practice gains more general social acceptance.

· An understanding of the social, economic and other potential influences and forces that might lead to either preventing communities and returnees from adopting poppy cultivation, or abandoning the practice.

· A thorough assessment of the potential for assisting the improvement of sustainable alternative livelihood options to poppy cultivation.

It is beyond the scope of this study to set out the precise way in which such collaborative actions will be managed and implemented. This will depend on the circumstances and is the responsibility of the respective and combined UN agencies’ management on the spot. It will, however, require the employment and if necessary the training of a corps of local Afghan personnel skilled at undertaking such social studies and appraisals as may be necessary for the design and implementation of joint initiatives aimed at discouraging poppy cultivation..

7.2 This Study indicates that it is seldom possible to separate particular refugee or IDP families from the greater community, extended family, clan and tribe to which they belong. There is a tendency for the aid community to consider families who are still refugees or IDPs separately from those who either never left their villages or resettled some years previously. It is often overlooked that, though scattered, these extended families and communities often continue to operate as a larger economic unit. They are usually in close communication with each other and continue to be subject to many of the same social influences and community pressures. Any project involving the return of refugees or displaced families to Afghanistan, where these may be susceptible to the attractions of adopting opium production, must take this social dimension into account. Little or no attention has been paid to the livelihood implications arising from the expanded economic base available to such extended families. More detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this work , which can only flag it as a subject that requires closer study.

UNHCR should at all times keep UNDCP well advised of expected refugee movements, particularly if they are to areas considered to be susceptible to adopting poppy cultivation, or where poppy cultivation is already being practised. Likewise UNDCP should keep UNHCR advised about what it knows concerning the social and economic linkages between resident communities in Afghanistan where poppy is being cultivated and their extended families still refugees or IDPs. In particular IDPs temporally settled in poppy growing areas may be particularly vulnerable to the influences of the population in those areas.

7.3 There is a need for an extensive review of the present UNDCP awareness programme and its relevance to opium production both in Afghanistan and in refugee and internally displaced camps. The Study indicates a high level of vague awareness that the UN in general wishes to discourage opium production in Afghanistan, but few of the returnees or longer established poppy growers in Azra, Tagab or Sarobi appeared to be aware of the UNDCP programmes in any detail. None appeared to relate it to themselves or see it as influencing their decision whether or not to cultivate poppy. This points to a serious need for UNDCP to carefully review its present awareness programme, particularly concerning the production of opium. Clearly in its present form and in the way it is being presented it is not proving to have any significant effect, at least on production. This Study does not cover its possible effect on reducing or preventing consumption. It is also beyond the scope of the Study to make the necessary recommendations as to how the present awareness programme might be redesigned so as to be more effective in this respect, but the Study makes it very clear that this is required and the necessary expertise should be employed to review this issue.

7.4 Drug addiction is no longer “some one else’s problem” in Afghanistan and there is a need to strengthen UNDCP awareness programmes that emphasize refugees the social costs and dangers. Recent investigations carried out with rural communities in Afghanistan to which have been returning in significant numbers, indicate that addiction to opiates and other ‘hard drugs’ is now becoming a social issue in rural communities.[13] Addiction is no longer confined to certain minority groups inside Afghanistan, nor to individuals living outside the country, or the urban population in Kabul. Serious addicts are increasingly present among rural communities, as has been identified in Azra. Though rural drug addiction was not the subject of this Study, it is mentioned here as these addicts tend often to be refugees who have returned from Pakistan and Iran. It is referred to specifically with reference to heroin addiction in Azra, as described in a recent study carried out in selected Afghan rural communities. (ref UNDCP report )

UNDCP should take full advantage of this to press home the message of the social dangers and risks being taken by poppy growing communities if they continue in the business. Any such programme must be designed in the full awareness of the way extended families operate, so that the message is pressed home among refugees, potential returnees, as well as their relatives already settled in Afghanistan. UNDCP must work very closely with UNHCR and the other agencies working with refugees on the question of addiction, in the camps and in Afghanistan.

7.5 Prophylactic programmes are important in preventing both the expansion and the economic dependence on opium poppy. For instance:

· Had there been greater awareness that the population of Azra, including the returning refugees, were so susceptible to adopting opium poppy cultivation, it might have been possible to take this into account in the design of the ‘Joint Reintegration Programme for Azra and Tezin’. This might have included specific development initiatives aimed at discouraging opium production and a strong awareness programme which emphasized the social dangers and costs.

· Had it been possible to foresee the dangers of the Tagab communities’ economic dependence on their onion crop, and had there also been awareness of their susceptibility to poppy cultivation as a result of their Nangarhar experience as IDPs, it might have been possible to foresee a potential problem and to initiate appropriate initiatives to forestall it. For example a project might have been designed to assist in improving the storage and preservation (drying) of onions, their important legitimate cash crop.

This further points to the necessity of close UNDCP involvement at the initial planning stage in all joint agency ‘targeted area’ programmes involving refugee return, together with other relevant technical agencies that might be in a position to assist in a practical as well as a technical fashion, such as FAO or NGOs with particular skills and available funding.

7.6 Long term, labour-intensive programmes are recommended. An example might be a long term forestry project for Azro. Other studies have placed some stress on encouraging long term, labour intensive programmes that might provide alternative sources of regular income to returning refugees and so discourage them from turning to opium production as a source of income and credit. This Study endorses this concept. In group discussions in Azra, several community leaders referred to their forests as their main traditional source of wealth, though now sadly wasted. They expressed their interest in a programme that would support the restoration of the main traditional economic asset of the area. It is fully understood that it is likely to prove very difficult to find donors prepared to fund such long term development projects and programmes at the present time. However, it is worth mentioning here, for consideration if and when conditions are more favourable.

7.7 Projects aimed at improving the storage, preservation and marketing of perishable but potentially valuable crops such as fruit and vegetables should be carefully considered. For example projects could introduce simple and comparatively inexpensive equipment and techniques for drying onions or fruit, for which there appears to be a potential considerable and profitable international market[14]. Such a project might be considered not only for the more vulnerable communities such as Tagab and Sarobi, but also in advance of problems in areas where crops such as onions, vegetables and fruit are seen as the best economic basis for future agricultural production by the people themselves. Khak i Jabbar and Mohammad Agha would both fit into this category.

7.8 Sincere government actions to reduce or prevent poppy cultivation and drug production should be supported as well as local community leadership. The survey indicates that there is often an influential section of the local community leadership who object to poppy cultivation, even within communities that have adopted the practice. These should be identified and supported wherever possible since local leadership is likely to be more effective and sustainable in the long term than 'government' directives. Nonetheless genuine government initiatives to ban or control the production of opium poppy should be supported.

7.9 Agencies should take advantage of situations that discourage poppy cultivation to initiate interventions that help to reinforce the retreat from poppy cultivation. The drought and the Taliban ban appear to be discouraging farmers and returnees, in marginal poppy areas such as Azra, Tagab and Sarobi, from sowing poppy. This provides an opportunity for UNDCP, together with the combined support of other UN agencies, such as FAO and appropriate NGOs, to initiate interventions likely to reinforce this current apparent retreat from poppy cultivation, for instance, the timely provision of good seed of appropriate alternative crops and inputs such as fruit trees (for example, apples and apricots in Azra and Sarobi, the restoration of pomegranate orchards in Tagab). Such interventions should be well identified and implemented in a timely fashion so as to encourage these populations not to cultivate poppy. The initiation of projects which assist with the storage, preservation and marketing of potentially high value but perishable crops, as described above, should also be considered to take advantage of the current situation.

7.10 Great care should be taken of where and how to distribute food aid to counteract the effects of drought at this time. Ill-considered, or poorly directed, distribution of food aid could act as an encouragement to communities already cultivating opium, if they assume that their food security will be looked after by a generous World, while they continue to sow their available land to poppy. UNDCP should collaborate particularly closely with WFP and other agencies involved in the current emergency food aid programmes to prevent this happening.

7.11 It is important that UNDCP continues the Strategic Studies. This series of Strategic Studies has been carried out against the background of a dynamic situation, with poppy cultivation expanding rapidly into new areas. If UNDCP is to maintain its special understanding of the socio-economic dimensions and dynamics of opium production in Afghanistan and so maintain a position where it can provide accurate and relevant information and advice to other UN and non-UN agencies alike, these Strategic studies must be continuously followed up and improved. This Study has considered the situation of returnees in only five districts and thus cannot claim to be definitive. Similar studies that look more closely at poppy linkages and experiences, as identified here, should be carried out in the South West, North East and particularly in the Northern Provinces of Afghanistan, where an alarming expansion is reported. Further studies of this kind, dealing with the subject of helping refugees or internally displaced families return should be developed in conjunction with UNHCR and other agencies involved in facilitating their return home.


ANNEX 1: DETAILED FINDINGS, AZRA in LOGAR

Started cultivating poppy in 1997/ 98 season.

Poppy estimated area in hectares: 1997/98 - 4 hectares: 1998/99 - 29 hectares:

1999/ 00 - 46 hectares:

Recorded refugee return (UNHCR): 1999: 287 families, 1,609 individuals.

2000 (July): 35 families, 216 individuals.

General background: Azra district, though administratively part of Logar province, occupies a mountain enclave of its own in the northern Spingar mountain range, which has close economic ties and historical connections with Nangarhar and Jalalabad. The Azro settlements lie in a series of high narrow valleys at between 1,800 and 2,000 metres altitude with cultivated land confined to narrow strips and river terraces, maintained only with great effort and often subject to destructive floods. Summers are cool and heavy snowfall is common in winter, often cutting off the villages for weeks on end. Roads were only constructed in the late 1950s and 1960s. Traditional crops are autumn sown wheat and clover, followed by spring and summer crops of maize (mainly for fodder), cannabis as an important commercial crop, vegetables, onions and potatoes for subsistence. Walnuts and forest products, timber, fuel wood and pine kernels – jalghozeh - are of historical importance, though most of the good timber has been extracted, leading to increasing problems of erosion and flash flooding. In recent years the introduction of improved varieties of fruit trees, apples and apricots, is arousing local interest. Opium poppy was first observed in 1997/98.

“The forest was always the real traditional wealth of Azra, more than our agricultural land. None of the aid agencies have understood or paid attention to this.”

Village elder, Azra.

“I just have to think about my apple orchard and it makes me feel contented, even if I have had nothing to eat that day”

Azra farmer who had planted an apple orchard in 1994

The destruction of Azra and refugees: During the Soviet war, Azra found itself in a dangerously strategic position astride the mountain passes between Logar and Nangarhar and the Paktiya valleys. As a result it was systematically bombed and almost the entire population became refugees in Pakistan in the early 1980s, except for a few key individuals left behind as guardians of the land. As refugees they were, and still are, scattered throughout a number of camps in North West Frontier Province, including Thal, Jalozai, Badaber, Hangu and Kohat.

Refugee return: A steady trickle of families started to return after the fall of the Communist government in Kabul in 1992, but return received a considerable boost in 1997 and 1998 as the result of the UNHCR inspired 'Joint Reintegration Programme for Azra and Tezin' and the facilitated repatriation that took place at that time. UNHCR reported that a total of about “12,000 refugees returned to the ghost villages in Azra and Tezin” in 1998.[15] However, in the estimation of a number of local people spoken to both in Azra and later in the refugee camps possibly no more than 1/3rd of the present total population are back in Azra, the remaining 2/3rds or more still remaining in Pakistan, with apparently little intention of returning. Nonetheless the members of these extended families keep in close contact with each other and it is misleading to separate that part of the extended family that has returned as guardians of their ancestral land from those who remain behind. All appreciate that population pressure on limited land resources is already almost intolerable and not all can return. It became clear from general conversation that the original population has multiplied several times over the last twenty years and the necessity of increasing income from limited land resources was given as a major reason for starting to cultivate opium poppy during the Study survey. Two typical responses are given below to the inquiry as to how many there were in someone’s close family group when they migrated, and how many there are now.

When we left for Pakistan we were eleven souls in our immediate family group, now we are more than fifty. How can our land here support all of us?”

Azra returnee in Akbar Khel

“When we left for Pakistan, there were eight of us, now there are nearly sixty! Most of us must stay in Pakistan and go on earning money there. We only have three jeribs of land here. That is hardly enough to support those of us who have returned! If all of us returned there would be no room for our houses let alone our cultivated land.”

Azra returnee in Mangal

A typical conversation with members of an extended family from Azra still remaining in the Badaber camps in Pakistan confirmed this impression.

“We think about our relations who have returned to Azra all the time. They think about us all the time. We love our land, that is why some of us had to go back. We hate being separated, but there are more than thirty of us now and how can two jeribs support all of us? Together we have bought a lorry and are paying it off in monthly installments. We can earn good money with the lorry. We buy supplies here in Pakistan for our brothers in Azra, because it is cheaper and we send to them (tea, sugar, clothes), otherwise they would have nothing. We visit them there in the hot weather and they visit us here in the cold weather. If they are ill they come here to get treatment, they cannot get that in Azra. We have also rented agricultural land down here and are growing some wheat and maize. They have nothing to send except a few walnuts and jalghozeh (pine kernels). How else would we all survive?”

Brother of Azra returnee met in Badaber refugee camp.

In this and many similar cases it is clear that a dual and mutually self supporting economy has developed in which many extended families are doing all they can to maximize the resources available to them. Opium poppy cultivation is just one of a number of options.

Incentives to return: In the Study survey, 12out of 20 respondents had returned in 1967 and 1968, of whom 11 were facilitated by UNHCR. The others returned at various times under their own initiative and unassisted, inspired by the prospect of peace and the return to their own land after years of exile in Pakistan.

Table 2: Azra Survey: Refugee return by year

Karia

Respond

Did not leave

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

17

20

3

0

1

2

2

0

7*

5*

0

* Of those refugees who returned to Azra in 1997 and 1998, 11 out of 12 referred to UNHCR assistance as being the main reason for their return.

Returning refugees and opium poppy cultivation: For a number of reasons the influx of refugees returning in 1997/98 coincided with the start of opium poppy cultivation in Azra, which also began in 1997/98. The UNDCP 1998 poppy survey recorded for the first time about 4 hectares of poppy in Azra, increasing to 46 hectares in the latest 2000 season.[16]

Out of the 20 respondents in Azra from a total of 17 different communities or karia, all had cultivated opium poppy. Seventeen had been refugees and 3 had never left. Some had started poppy cultivation in 1997/98, some in 1998/99 and others in 1999/2000.

Table 3: Azra Survey : Opium poppy cultivation and year started.

Karia

Respondents

Cultivating Poppy

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

17

20

20

5

8

7

  • Of the 5 who started to cultivate poppy in 1997/98: 3 had returned in 1997, 1 in 1994, and 1 had never left his village.

  • Of the 8 who had started to cultivate poppy in 1998/99: 3 had returned in 1998, 2 in 1997, 1 in 1995, and 2 had never left their village.

  • Of the 7 who had started to cultivate poppy in 1999/2000: 2 had returned in 1998, 2 in 1997, 1 in 1995, 1 in 1994, and 1 in 1993.

  • From this it is difficult to discern any clear direct correlation between the start of opium cultivation in Azra and newly returned refugees, as the phenomenon is spread across the years of repatriation and among those who never left. However, more newly returned refugees in Azra who had returned under the UNHCR ‘facilitated’ programme started to cultivate poppy

    immediately on their return, than was found to be the case in other places.

    All respondents said that they started to cultivate poppy to earn more money, and 11 respondents actually specified that they needed to earn more from their small land holdings.

    “We started to cultivate poppy to make more money from our small piece of land.” Returned 1997

    “To generate more income from our land, because it is too small to support all our family now.” Returned 1997

    Azra land holdings and land tenure: Land holdings are small, mostly between 1 and 5 jeribs, as born out by the survey. Though the majority are cultivating their own land -mulk-, some are farming the land of others, usually close relatives, under varying relationships of tenant/share cropper -dehqan- or leasehold –hedjareh - agreements[17]. Farmers generally manage their land with their own family labour (men, women and children). This includes the opium poppy crop, and they do not count the cost of this. It is customary for neighbours to help each other when the need arises.

    Table 4: Azra Survey: Land holdings

    Karia

    Respondents

    1 jerib

    2 jerib

    3 jerib

    4 jerib

    5 jerib

    17

    20

    3

    8

    4

    3

    2

    Owner

    Tenant/S Cropper

    Leasehold

    17

    3

    0

    Increase in poppy cultivation in Azra: Since 1997 the area of poppy cultivated in Azra, though still comparatively small, steadily increased as poppy gained acceptance as part of the cropping pattern. The UNDCP poppy survey of 1998 recorded a total of 4 hectares in Azra. This increased to 29 in 1999 and 46 in 2000. Several respondents (3) referred to the gradual acceptance of the crop in the community, with some farmers following the lead of others. One actually referred to ‘government indifference’, and another to poppy as a source of credit.

    “I was one of the first to start growing poppy. Later many others followed me.” Farmer who had never left Azra

    “I was always against growing poppy, but my two sons, who returned from Khogiani, told me ‘Are you a better Moslem than our neighbours ?!’ Everyone else was now cultivating poppy and making money out if it. So I agreed to sow poppy last season !” Elder who started growing poppy in 1999/00

    Areas of land sown to poppy: Individual farmers’ plots of opium poppy are quite small in Azra, varying from 0.20 to 0.5 jerib, or between 10% and 50% of a farmer’s total land holding. Nine respondents had sown 25 % of their land to poppy and the rest with other crops, mainly wheat.

    Table 5: Azra Survey: Amount and percentage of land planted with poppy

    Karia

    Respondents

    Nil poppy

    0.25 jerib

    0.5 jerib

    1.0 jerib

    1.0 + j

    17

    20

    0

    3

    13

    4

    0

    8 % land

    10.0 %

    12.0 %

    15.0 %

    20.0 %

    25.0 %

    33.0 %

    50 %

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    9

    2

    3

    Historical reasons that have made Azra farmers, both returnees and longer term residents particularly susceptible to adopting opium poppy as a livelihood option: The reasons provided by the Azra respondents for starting to cultivate opium poppy do not in themselves adequately explain what had made the population of Azro particularly susceptible to the idea in the first place. Two reasons are provided below.

    Experience and knowledge gained as labourers in the Nangahar poppy fields: For many years the people of Azra have supplemented their agricultural livelihoods as seasonal labourers in the poppy fields in Nangarhar, particularly in Khogiani and Surkhrud, and long before they started to grow poppy in 1997/98 many Azro farmers were already experts at cultivating poppy and harvesting opium and were familiar with the trade.[18] Out of twenty respondents, all of whom started to cultivate poppy in the last three seasons, 14 had learned the business working in Nangarhar and the remaining 6 had learned from their neighbours.

    Table 6: Azra Survey: Poppy Cultivation in Azra: Main influences and where skills learned.

    No. Comm

    No of Respondents

    Poppy Growers

    In Nangarhar

    From neighbours

    17

    20

    20

    14 *

    6

    * 6 in Khogiani; 6 in Surkhrud; 1in Baticot and 1 in Nangarhar generally.

    Azra: A long tradition of commercial drug production - Cannabis: Though poppy cultivation in Azra has a history of only three seasons, cannabis(Cannabis sativa) has a long history as an important commercial crop. Azra chars is well known in Afghanistan and its commercial cultivation was given a boost by the war and the flight of most of the population. It is a crop that flourishes in Azra and which can be grown with the minimum of care and attention, while at the same time bringing in a reasonably income. By the early 1990s cannabis had become the main cash crop of Azra, sown in April and harvested in October. Since the Taliban took Jalalabad in 1996 they have brought increasing pressure to bear on the Azra farmers to stop cultivating cannabis. This has been seriously enforced, particularly this year. The loss of income this has entailed, and the fact that the agricultural economy of Azra had for a long time been largely based on a drug crop, have undoubtedly been important factors in making them more inclined to change over to poppy as an alternative crop. Initially the Taliban appeared to be more serious in enforcing their ban on cannabis than on controlling the cultivation of opium poppy. They had already effectively enforced the abolition of cannabis cultivation in 1995 in Qandahar and Zabol, which had previously been important areas of commercial production.

    The agronomic advantages of opium poppy in Azra: Once they started to cultivate opium poppy the Azra farmers found to their delight that because the poppy crop is harvested and off the land several weeks earlier than wheat, it is possible to sow their maize earlier and obtain a grain crop rather than just a fodder crop for their livestock. By cultivating poppy they can now achieve a double crop, where this had not been possible in earlier times. With more people back in the valleys this was an important discovery in terms of food security.

    Adopting opium poppy was a natural development in Azro: It seems clear that when more refugee families returned to Azra in 1997 and 1998, this placed additional pressure on the land and provided an incentive for them to look for more profitable livelihood options. They already had extensive experience and knowledge of opium production, both of husbandry and trading, from their working experience in Nangarhar. Furthermore, they had a long tradition of cultivating cannabis, which had accustomed them to cultivating and trading in a drug crop. With more families returning to the district, increasing pressure on limited land resources, and with the Taliban increasing pressure to stop cultivating cannabis, nothing was more natural than that the inhabitants of Azra should think of cultivating poppy as an alternative crop, one with which they were already very familiar. Wider adoption was ensured by its agronomic, income generating and market advantages. To this was added the fact that it did not interfere with their opportunities for seasonal work in Nangarhar as the later season for harvesting opium in Azra means that they can complete their work as seasonal labourers and still return to Azra in time for their own poppy harvest.

    Attitudes to the Taliban ban: present discouragement to cultivate opium poppy: If it is important to understand why returnees started to cultivate poppy in Azra, it is also important to understand what may discourage its cultivation. At present there is no indication that the combined UN programme in the area has had any influence in this matter whatsoever. The present Taliban ban, on the other hand, does appear to be taken seriously and out of 20 respondents, all of whom had been cultivating opium poppy, 17 said that they would definitely not grow poppy this coming season, 2 said they probably would not and 1 was undecided. All gave the Taliban ban as their main reason for not cultivating poppy.

    Table 7: Azra Survey: Reactions to Taliban ban on poppy cultivation.

    Respondents

    Grow

    Poppy

    Know

    of ban

    Say will

    not grow

    this season

    Probably will not grow this season

    Undecided.

    Wait / see

    Taliban ban main reason for not

    growing poppy

    20

    20

    20

    100%

    17

    2

    1

    20

    Whereas the 1999/2000 Taliban directive to cut production by 1/3rd was clearly not taken very seriously the present ban appears to carry much more force as confirmed in later group discussions held in Azra.

    Awareness of UN/UNDCP programmes to discourage opium production in Afghanistan.

    Summary of responses to question relating to awareness of UN /UNDCP programmes.

    Table 8: Azra Survey: Comments on UN / UNDCP Activities.

    Respondents

    Know

    Nothing about

    UN involvement

    UN working in Afghanistan to stop poppy.

    (vague)

    UN working in

    Shinwar to stop poppy

    UN trying to stop poppy cultivation

    in Nangarhar

    UN working in Nangarhar/ to help farmers

    (vague)

    UNDCP carried out

    poppy survey

    20

    5

    1

    2

    8

    3

    1

    Poppy cultivation in Azra may be reduced in the coming season but the skills remain.

    Even if poppy is not cultivated in Azra this coming season it is likely to remain among the likely agricultural crops and few livelihood options open to those who choose to live there. By the end of November 2000 it will be clear what is happening for the coming season.

    Returning refugees and addiction to opiates: Azra is no longer immune to the problem of serious drug addiction, a habit acquired by refugees while in exile. For a long time Azra had been famous for the quality of its cannabis - chars -and the population had always had its addicts - charsi. This was not exceptional in traditional Afghan society, but it is now an established fact that Azra has a number of opium and heroin addicts among its rural population and cannot any longer claim that this is ‘someone else’s problem’.[19]

    Returnees are often members of extended families with an extended economic base: Many families who have returned leave part of their extended family in Pakistan or elsewhere and spread their economic possibilities over as wide an area as possible. Opium poppy together with cannabis may be among their livelihood options, but it is not yet considered their only one. In Azra opium poppy has not yet assumed economic dominance in the way it has in ‘hard core’ districts such as Khogiani., where returning refugees are likely to find it extremely difficult to resist cultivating opium poppy. No one in Azra is saying that life is easy, but neither was anyone saying they could not survive without cultivating poppy.

    Box 2: Azra: The process of adopting opium poppy as a livelihood option

    Influences increasing susceptibility to consider adoption of opium poppy as a livelihood option:

  • Community already historically, economically reliant on a drug cash crop - Cannabis.

  • Community already experienced from working as seasonal labourers in the poppy fields, in the ‘hard core’ districts of Nangarhar. Know both techniques and trading mechanisms.

  • Strong trading and social linkages with Nangarhar, in particular Hisarak, Khogiani, Surkhrud, and Jalalabad city, already well developed.

  • Main imperatives for adoption of opium poppy as a livelihood option:

  • Taliban ban on cannabis cultivation and prospective loss of income.

  • Other traditional source of income from forest products, timber, firewood and pine kernels not good since virtual destruction of the forests.

  • Increased pressure on limited land resources, intensified by the 1997/98 influx of refugees.

  • High price of opium gum in 1997; 1998 and 1999.

  • Main reasons that confirm the adoption and expansion of opium poppy cultivation in Azro.

  • Initial agronomic and financial success, helps win social acceptance reinforced by peer pressure.

  • Added income from limited land resources.

  • Experienced advantages or storability, lack of bulk, transportability, and marketability in either Jalalabad or with visiting traders.

  • Source of credit.

  • Opium poppy observed to permit double cropping allowing a summer grain crop of maize. Essential for food security to meet needs of increasing population pressure.

  • Possible reasons for stopping cultivation of opium poppy in forthcoming season.

  • The Taliban ban and fear of the consequences of flouting it. (This is the main expressed reason for stopping.)

  • The voice of community conscience (certain community leaders). Combined with experience of having opium / heroin addicts in the community. Bad luck, bad bakhti. For example, “We do not wish to forfeit the good luck barakat brought about by possessing the relics of the Prophet Mohammad (PBH), his shirt and cap, in Mangal of Azra”. [20]

  • Main off farm, non agricultural livelihood options.

  • Part of extended family to remain in Pakistan or elsewhere to earn money in whatever way possible. Extended family and expanded livelihoods.


  • ANNEX 2: DETAILED FINDINGS:TAGAB in KAPISA

    Started cultivating poppy in 1998/99 season.

    Opium Poppy estimated area in hectares: 1998/99 - 5 hectares: 1999/00 - 104 hectares.

    Recorded refugee return - UNHCR: 1999: 157 families; 929 individuals.

    2000 (July): 44 families; 285 individuals.

    The Tagab valley runs north from the main Kabul river between high mountains. Agricultural land is mainly confined to irrigated river terraces along the bottom of these valleys. The main traditional crops are autumn sown wheat and clover, followed by spring and summer planted cash crops of onions and potatoes, with some maize and vegetables. Pomegranates from Tagab were famous throughout the country, rivaled only by those from Qandarhar, though many orchards have suffered serious damage. Opium poppy started to be cultivated in 1998/99.

    The destruction of Tagab and two waves of refugees and displaced families: The Tagab villages were extensively bombed and destroyed during the Soviet war and afterwards the valley was much contested during the Commanders’ war. As a result most of the population fled. The earliest refugees were settled in camps near Peshawar, such as Kabadian, but subsequent conflicts in 1994/95 created a new wave of migrants. They were not permitted to go to Pakistan and were settled in camps outside Jalalabad, mainly in the camp at Samarkhel known as ‘Little Tagab’. This latter displacement had an important influence in introducing the economic possibilities of opium production to the Tagabis, who worked as seasonal labourers in the Nangarhar poppy fields. There they became skilled in the husbandry and harvesting of opium and also in the opium trade.

    Refugee Return: Refugees started to return to Tagab after the fall of Kabul to the mujahideen forces in 1992, but this was largely reversed by a fresh wave of emigrants, the result of the later inter-party fighting. These later migrants settled in Nangarhar, returned to Tagab in 1997 and 1998 after the Taliban took Kabul in 1996 and the camps were closed.

    Table 9: Tagab Survey: Refugee return by year

    Karia

    Respondents

    Did not leave

    1992

    1993

    1994

    1995

    1996

    1997

    1998

    15

    20

    3

    0

    1

    2

    2

    0

    7

    5

    Incentives to return: In the Study survey 3 out of 20 respondents had never left Tagab. Of 17 returnees, 13 stated that they just wished to get back to their land and home as soon as there was peace. One stated that he could no longer care for his family in the camps, and 2 others said they had to return because assistance stopped and the camps were closed. As most of the returnees had been in the Jalalabad camps as internally displaced families rather than in Pakistan as refugees, almost all returned to Tagab as complete family units, unlike many refugee families in Pakistan. None of those returning to Tagab had been facilitated to return by UNHCR or any other agency. They had, however, been encouraged to return by the Taliban, who had closed the camps.

    Returnees and opium poppy cultivation: The Tagab returnees did not immediately start to cultivate poppy. Their initial inclination was to cultivate the cash crops that had sustained them in previous times, among which were onions, grown for the Kabul and Jalalabad markets. More than anything it was the failure of the onion market in 1998 that caused them to think of sowing opium poppy as an alternative crop. In 1999 the UNDCP poppy survey recorded an estimated 5 hectares of poppy in Tagab in 1999 and a substantial increase in 2000 to 104 hectares.[21] Most respondents were very clear that they considered opium to be a more profitable and reliable crop than onions, with the added advantages of being easy to store, easy to sell, easy to transport, and easy to sell. However, after a rather poor opium crop in 2000 some doubts have been raised.

    Table 10: Tagab Survey: Opium poppy cultivation and year started.

    Karia

    Respondents

    Cultivating poppy

    1998/998

    1999/00

    17

    20

    17

    5

    12

  • Of the 5 respondents who started to cultivate poppy in 1998/99: 1 had never left, 2 returned from Peshawar in 1992 but left, and returned a second time from Jalalabad in 1996, 1 returned in 1992 and never left again, and 1 returned in 1993 and never left again. None were first year returnees.

  • Of the 12 who started to cultivate poppy in 1999/00: 1 had never left, 2 had returned in 1992, 1 returned in 1994, 5 returned in 1996, 1 returned in 1997, 2 returned in 1998, and 1 returned in 1999. Only 1 was a first year returnee.

  • There is no clear indication that newly returning refugees are more or less inclined to adopt poppy cultivation on their arrival home than those who never left or who have been resettled for some years. The phenomenon seems to have more to do with general community acceptance of the practice, particularly in the second season. However, they might not have turned with such facility to cultivating opium poppy as an alternative crop, after the onion market failed, had they not previously had their 'poppy experience' in Nangarhar. Once a few farmers started to cultivate poppy, community acceptance and the influence of peers seems to have played an important role in its subsequent rapid expansion.

    Reasons given for cultivating and not cultivating opium poppy: Out of 20 respondents, 3 stated that they had not and would not cultivate opium poppy and did not approve of it. These were all larger land owners and village maliks. Of the remaining 17, most gave a combination of reasons for growing poppy, the basis of which was their expectation to make more money from limited land resources. 9 specifically referred to the collapse of the onion market as the main reason for thinking of cultivating poppy. All stated that opium was easy to sell either in Jalalabad or to visiting traders; two specifically listed advantages of storage and transportation; 6 stated that they had started either as a result of peer pressure or once they observed that it was socially acceptable. Two of themaliks also stated that up to now the authorities had been indifferent.

    Poppy experience from the Jalalabad camps: Opium poppy was cultivated to a limited extent in Tagab before the Soviet war, though discouraged by the Government, and some memory and knowledge of the necessary skills survived from those times. However, the main influence in recent times has come from the experiences gained while in the Jalalabad camps. Out of 17 respondents cultivating poppy, 16 stated they had learned all about the crop from working in the Nangarhar poppy fields while living in the Jalalabad camps. In particular 14 referred to their time in the Samarkhel camp. Adopting poppy as an alternative crop after the collapse of the onion market was therefore a natural development.

    Table 11: Tagab Survey: Poppy Cultivation in Sarobi: Main influences and where skills learned.

    Karia

    Respondents

    Poppy Growers

    Samarkhel

    Nangarhar

    Connection

    Grew poppy before the war

    From neighbours

    17

    20

    17

    16

    3

    1

    Tagab: Land holdings and land tenure: Land holdings tend to be small, mostly between 1 and 4 jeribs. Most farmers are cultivating their own land, which is all irrigated, though some are farming land under tenancy/sharecropping or leasehold arrangements, usually with relations who are absent. However, there are some larger land holders. The survey included 2 with 12 jeribs each and a third with 20 jeribs, all of them village maliks. Interestingly, none of these larger land owners were interested in cultivating opium poppy. Most farmers manage their land with their own family labour, and they do not count this against their costs. When necessary it is customary for neighbours to help each other.

    Table 12: Tagab Survey: Land holdings.

    karia

    Respondents

    1 jerib

    2 jerib

    3 jerib

    5 jerib

    4 jerib

    12 jerib

    20 jerib

    15

    20

    5

    7

    2

    1

    2

    2

    1

    Owner

    Tenant/

    Share cropper

    Leasehold

    20

    0

    0

    Most respondents grew poppy on between 12.5 % and 25% of their available land. 9 out of 17 had planted 25% of their land to poppy, while the total area never exceeded 0.5 jerib.

    Table 13:Tagab Survey: Opium poppy cultivation

    Karia

    Respondents

    No Poppy

    0.2 jerib

    0.25 jerib

    0.5 jerib

    15

    20

    3

    2

    8

    7

    0 % land

    10 %

    12.5 %

    16 %

    20 %

    25 %

    3 *

    1

    3

    2

    2

    9

    * All three village maliks who do not approve of growing poppy.

    Once a few farmers had started to cultivate poppy, community acceptance and peer pressure have played an important part in encouraging other returnees to follow suit.

    “Everybody, even small children, were talking about opium poppy. Last year I saw farmers in Nangarhar growing poppy. I waited to see if someone else would start. They did, and now we all compete with each other to see if it is profitable or not.” Returned 1992, started poppy in 1999/2000

    “First I was ashamed to grow poppy, even though I knew how. All the villagers faced the same problems of selling onions. More than 80% were spoiled. Now all the village intend to grow poppy in order to make more money. But now the Taliban have banned it.” Returned 1996, started poppy in 1999/2000

    “ I saw the money farmers in Nangarhar made from opium. Everyone here was talking about cultivating poppy. When I returned to Tagab, I too was thinking about growing poppy, but in my first year I felt ashamed. But when I saw others growing poppy in other Tagab villages I started.” Returned 1998, started poppy in 1999/2000

    Some returnees had been inspired by observing the benefits gained by other people from cultivating poppy.

    “I caught a lift in a vehicle coming from Jalalabad, and the driver told me he had bought it with the profits he made from his opium crop. This inspired me to cultivate opium poppy. I was one of the first to do so in this area in 1998/99 and others have followed me.”

    Tagab farmer who had never left.

    Not everyone in Tagab approved of poppy cultivation, and among them were the three large land-owners, all village maliks, who were outspoken in their disapproval, though they understood the imperatives that had induced the smaller farmers to start cultivating poppy. All three said much the same thing.

    “I do not grow poppy, but these are the reasons some people here have started to grow poppy. Firstly there is a lot of propaganda in favour of cultivating poppy, but really it is mainly propaganda that poppy is so profitable. This is not really true. Then the people from here have been exposed to poppy cultivation while they were living in the Nangarhar camps, in the poppy growing areas. The authorities have been indifferent, and there is no market for other crops. The market is free. The people feel no responsibility towards others and are ignorant of the problems that may arise in the future from growing opium poppy. Although, poppy cultivation is only in its initial stages in Tagab, there is a danger of it expanding. Everyone now knows about the Taliban bans. Last year 1/3rd, this year a total ban. I think no one will plant poppy in Tagab this year because of a combination of the drought and the Taliban ban. I am aware that the UN is assisting the Government in Afghanistan to stop poppy cultivation, but I do not know exactly what they are doing.

    Village malik and head of his clan

    The drought and attitudes to the Taliban ban: The drought combined with the recent Taliban ban appear to be turning farmers against the opium, after only two seasons of growing it, at least for the coming season. All 17 respondents growing poppy stated that they would not cultivate it in the coming season. All had heard of the Taliban bans and were taking the present one seriously, even if the previous one to reduce by 1/3rd had not been taken seriously. Eight respondents gave the drought as the primary reason for not cultivating poppy, and 9 stated that a combination of the Taliban ban and the drought was their main reason. The 3 larger land owners, none of whom had planted poppy, all stated that they hoped and thought that the Taliban ban would be taken seriously. Two respondents felt that after indifferent results from their opium crop in the current season, perhaps in the long run their traditional cash crop of onions was a better bet and halal. Two felt that the drought was in some way the consequence of their growing poppy, a ‘curse from God’.

    Table 14: Tagab Survey: Reasons for deciding not to grow poppy in the forthcoming season

    karia

    Respondents

    Grew poppy

    Never grew

    Poppy

    Drought

    Only the

    Ban

    Ban and drought

    Other Reasons

    17

    20

    17

    3**

    9

    0

    10

    1*

    *Onions are a better bet and also ‘halal’; poppy is ‘haram’. ** The three maliks who had not grown poppy and disapproved of it also said they thought that the reason others would not sow poppy this year was a combination of the Taliban ban and the drought.

    Table 15: Tagab Survey: Awareness of UN/UNDCP activities

    Respondents

    Aware of UN

    Anti-opium programme –vague

    Unaware of UN

    Anti-opium programmes

    Specifically

    Mentioned

    Nangarhar

    Felt that it is

    UN responsibility

    to stop opium

    production

    20

    16

    4

    7

    1 (village malik)

    Out of 20 respondents 16 said they were aware of the UN work in Afghanistan and interest in reducing opium production. 4 respondents knew nothing about it. Most were quite vague and none related it to themselves or their decisions to grow poppy or not.


    Box 3: Tagab in Kapisa: the process of adoption of opium poppy as a livelihood option.

    Influences increasing susceptibility for adopting opium poppy as a livelihood option:

  • From the years in the Jalalabad camps (Samarkhel) and experience gained from working as seasonal labourers in the poppy fields, in the ‘hard core’ districts of Nangarhar, know both techniques and trading mechanisms.

  • Trading and social linkages with Nangarhar well developed and from that time.

  • Some prior experience of cultivating opium poppy before the war.

  • Main imperatives for adoption of opium poppy as a livelihood option:

  • Collapse of the onion market in 1997and 98. (Main expressed reason)

  • Pomegranate orchards for which Tagab famous, in poor condition after the war. Loss of a traditional source of income. (possible additional reason)

  • Increased pressure on limited land resources, possibly increased by the 1997/98 influx of refugees ‘encouraged’ by peace and the closure of the Jalalabad camps.

  • High price of opium gum in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

  • Main reasons that confirm the adoption and expansion of opium poppy cultivation in Azro.

  • Initial agronomic and financial success, helps win social acceptance reinforced by

  • peer pressure from extended family.

  • Added income from limited land resources.

  • Experienced advantages over perishable crops like onions. Storability, no bulk, easy to transport, easy to market in Jalalabad or with visiting traders.

  • Source of credit.

  • Possible reasons for stopping cultivation of opium poppy in forthcoming season.

  • The drought. This is the main expressed reason for stopping.

  • The Taliban ban and fear of the consequences of flouting it. This is the second reason but almost always coupled with the drought.

  • Disappointing opium yields.

  • The voice of community conscience. Sinful. The drought is God’s punishment.

  • The voice of the maliks who disapprove of opium poppy.

  • Main off farm, non-agricultural livelihood options.

  • Not so many family members from Tagab still in Pakistan, but some are there or elsewhere to earn money in whatever way possible.


  • ANNEX 3: DETAILED FINDINGS: SAROBI of KABUL

    Re-started poppy cultivation in 1997/98
    Opium poppy estimated area in hectares:
    1998/99
    - 132 hectares
    1999/00 - 340 hectares

    Recorded refugee return - UNHCR:

    1999 157 families; 929 individuals

    2000 (July) 44 families; 285 individuals

    General background: Sarobi district lies astride the main Kabul to Jalalabad road. Some agricultural land and settlements lie close to the road along the line of the Kabul river, mainly near to the district centre and bazaar of Sarobi town. Historically, much of the best land in this area was ‘lost’ when the Sarobi and Naghloo dams were constructed in the 1950s and 60s and the people from here were given new land in Nangarhar, while still retaining land rights in Sarobi. However, the best agricultural land and most of the rural settlements in Sarobi are found in the Uzbin valley north of the main road. Here there is a long tradition of cultivating opium poppy. To the south of Sarobi town are the Jigdalik and Tezin valleys which lie astride the ‘old’ Kabul to Jalalabad road. The communities and land owners in these areas have historical links with Nangarhar. Agriculture in the Sarobi valleys is based on autumn sown wheat and clover, with spring and summer sown crops of maize (for grain and fodder), onions, potatoes and vegetables. Sarobi is not particularly well known for its fruit.

    Opium poppy has probably always been cultivated in the upper reaches of the Uzbin valley, where the population were well known for ignoring the directives of central government. A noticeable expansion of opium poppy into the lower, more accessible Sarobi valleys was first noticed by UNDCP and recorded in the 1997 Poppy Survey.

    The destruction of Sarobi and refugees: Sarobi settlements were heavily bombed and destroyed during the Soviet war. A large proportion of the population fled as refugees to Pakistan in the early 1980s and were settled in camps near to Peshawar, Kohat and Haripur. In 1993, with the advent of the Commanders’ war, Sarobi continued be in the front line between rival parties and it was only after 1996 that the area became relatively safe.

    Refugee return: