The Helmand Food Zone: The Illusion of Success
AREU, 1 December 2019
Initially presented as a drug control project, the Helmand Food Zone came to be accredited for supporting stabilisation and governance in the Helmand province between 2008 and 2012. Driven by political demands rather than evidence, the programme became a flagship in Helmand, and lauded as a success, despite evidence to the contrary. (…) The study reports that the short term success of the Helmand Food Zone with regards to its association with reducing poppy was far outweighed by the role the programme played in: (i) creating the conditions for unprecedented amounts of land to be brought under poppy cultivation than ever before; (ii) institutionalising forms of corruption that further alienated the rural population from the authorities; and (iii) helping set in motion a process of agricultural intensification that is likely to lead to the displacement of at least half a million people in the next decade.
(from AREU’s introduction of the report)