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STILL WATER RUNS DEEP: Illicit Poppy and the Transformation of the Deserts of Southwest Afghanistan

The physical and political geography of the deserts of southwest Afghanistan have gone through dramatic change over the last two decades. Located on the periphery of irrigated lands settled by the Afghan state in the 1950s and 1960s, this area Read More

Truly Unprecedented: How the Helmand Food Zone supported an increase in the province’s capacity to produce opium

The goal of the Helmand Food Zone (HFZ) was to bring about a rapid and significant reduction in opium poppy cultivation. It was funded directly by the UK and US governments to the tune of between US$12 and $18 million Read More

Understanding Control and Influence: What Opium Poppy and Tax Reveal about the Writ of the Afghan State

There are a number of organisations that have sought to map government control in Afghanistan.1 However, given the frequency it is cited in the media and official reports, this paper offers a critique of the current way that North Atlantic Read More

Time to Move on-Developing an Informed Development Response to Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

After almost 15 years since the fall of the Taliban, the policy discussion on counternarcotics remains uncertain of which way to proceed. In large part, this is because policy discussion is shaped by a superficial or misguided understanding of opium Read More

Moving with the Times: How Opium Poppy Cultivation has Adapted to the Changing Environment in Afghanistan

This “watching brief” has described a number of trends with respect to agriculture, land settlement, and opium poppy in several areas of Afghanistan. It highlights two separate but highly related issues. First, what will be farmers’ response to changes in Read More

A State Built on Sand: How Opium Undermined Afghanistan

A State Built on Sand: How Opium Undermined Afghanistan by renowned author, David Mansfield, examines why drug control has been imposed in Afghanistan and portrays an intimate understanding of rural Afghanistan, where he has worked for close to two decades. Read More

The Devil is in the Details: Nangarhar’s continued decline into insurgency, violence and widespread drug production

Nangarhar – a province that historically has been one of the major entry points for the capture of Kabul – is in complete disarray. It lies in chaos, riven by a process of political fragmentation that has increased in both Read More

Helmand on the Move: Migration as a Response to Crop Failure

This paper provides an account of how the shift in security provision from a combined ISAF and ANSF operation to one driven by local actors has impacted upon a number of different locations in central Helmand. It is based on Read More

Despair or Hope? Opium Poppy Cultivation in post-2014 Afghanistan

Like so much else in Afghanistan, the direction that the opium economy takes after 2014 will depend on a complex matrix of factors.Those who despair point to the more than one-third increase in cultivation, with a new high in 2013. Read More

“From Bad They Made It Worse” The concentration of opium poppy in areas of conflict in the provinces of Helmand and Nangarhar

Levels of drug crop cultivation have long been seen as an indicator of the success or failure of counternarcotics efforts. However, to rely on this indicator is to misunderstand the socioeconomic and political processes that support farmers moving out of Read More