Cleanliness drive launched to save rare birds
KABUL (Pajhwok): Marking the International Volunteer Day, a group of nearly 150 youth gathered on Friday to clean Kool-i-Hashmat Khan, a wetland on the southeastern outskirts of Kabul where a huge number of birds used to live, and is now on the brink of ruin.
The Youth for Change Afghanistan Organisation (YCAO), a Kabul-based group, led this campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Culture, United Nations Volunteers, United Nations Development Programme in Afghanistan, and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme.
Kool-e-Hashmat Khan, once a natural wetland inhabiting 157 species of birds, and a recreational site for residents of Kabul City, has lost most of its birds over the last three decades due to poor attention from previous governments and illegal encroachments by nearby communities.
The wetland is now surrounded by auto repair workshops, a livestock auction house, and a number of other business activities, grabbing nearly 10 out of its 190 hectares of its land. Wastes produced by these activities are dumped in the wetland.
“Today, on the International Volunteer Day, we’ve gathered here to show how volunteerism can restore biodiversity by cleaning this historic site,” said Enayatullah Safi, director of the YCAO.
Even at this stage, there are good chances of saving this ecologically important site. Over last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, looking after the wetland, has recorded 107 species of birds still coming to the site, but their number has drastically reduced due to lack of water and accumulation of wastes suppressing the growth of reeds where the birds inhabit.
“We appreciate the spirit of volunteerism these young people are promoting,” said Taimoor Shah Eshaqzai, deputy minister of youth affairs at the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Ms. Marta Ruedas, UNDP Country Director in Afghanistan said: “While we encourage the practical steps these young people are taking in restoring their city’s precious environment, their activism makes us optimistic for a prosperous Afghanistan.”
International Volunteer Day (IVD) celebrates, each year, the act of volunteerism that is founded on the universal values of solidarity, commitment and engagement across the world.
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