To the north of the capital the paved Salang road links Kabul to the Northern provinces, and the district of Farza is situated about 30 minutes drive from Kabul, towards Parwan province. The land is mostly flat, rising to foothills of between 2,000 and 2,500 metres. Farza sits in the hills of the north-western part of Shomali plain, and its population is between 12,000 and 18,000, spread between about 18 villages. In January 1991 Farza was separated as an independent district from Mirbachakoot but this structure was not recognised by the Taliban. During the war, and particularly after 1996, fighting virtually destroyed the entire district, forcing the population from their homes and lands.
Farza is situated on fertile land, and the area is historically abundant with fruit orchards, cherries, vines, mulberries, grapes, plums, apples, willow and wheat. However, drought has severely affected the area over the last few years, and together with the wholesale destruction of the Kareze irrigation systems, has greatly affected the ability of the local population to support itself.
Coalition for Peace and Unity in Afghanistan (CPAU) has been operating in Farza for several years and alongside supporting the Peace Councils, CPAU also delivers peace education in 20 schools in the district. Some 5,000 students have received peace education in 2008, of which 40 per cent were female. In addition CPAU holds Peace Conferences in Farza, the last of which in October 2007 was attended by 120 people. The conferences are used to promote understanding between government bodies, religious leaders and local communities regarding non-violent conflict resolution. The Peace Council members have reported to CPAU that they see links between the peace promotion activities in the Peace Councils, Peace Education and the Peace Conferences.
Farza Peace Council
Farza has a population of 15,139 and the central Peace Council was formed on 25 August 2004 and consisted of 24 members and is composed of: 2 Mullahs, 4 Maliks, 2 Teachers, 1 student and 15 farmers.
The central Peace Council supports six zonal shuras, one of which is exclusively female. There are an average of 25 people in each zonal council. The councils dealt with at least 17 conflicts between 2005-7 and Farza was awarded the most peaceful district in Afghanistan by the Afghan government and UN in 2007. Conflicts over land and water are by far the most frequently addressed by the Peace Council. Local conflicts seen by the council are almost always low-intensity and non-fatal, and also include disputes over marriages, debt and, very infrequently, cases concerning blood feuds.
Along with carrying out its normal conflict resolution duties, including meeting regularly, encouraging peaceful resolution of conflicts and mediating where appropriate, and holding local conferences for people to hear about conflict resolution, the council has been running a number of other projects. This includes a micro hydro power project, costing $7,000 which is supplying electricity to 450 families, and establishing a company for local people called ‘Karkaari’. The company hires out cutlery and dishes used for catering for a large number of people during the festival and Eid seasons. The council helped to establish the company with a small grant to buy the basic materials, and is helping to finalise the administrative and financial systems of the company.
During the most recent monitoring mission to Farza in August 2008 members of the council were interested in expanding their activities in a number of areas:
These additional activities could take place over a number of years in discussion with the council, CPAU and Peace Direct.