The project aims to promote economic and social development, particularly in areas currently or recently under opium poppy cultivation, to facilitate the efforts of the government to maintain and extend the area in which the ban on the cultivation of opium poppy applies, with the objective of eliminating opium poppy from Dir District.
UNDCP has been supporting the Government of Pakistan since 1985 through an alternative development project aimed at opium elimination in Dir District of Northwest Frontier Province, with a total UNDCP commitment of US$ 23.7 million.
In the first phase of implementation of the project (1985-1992), the district - according to Government figures - saw , despite these efforts, an increase in poppy cultivation from about 1,100 hectares in 1985 to about 3,700 hectares in 1992. In the second phase of the project, poppy harvested in the district came down to zero in 2000.
This success is a result of the combined efforts of development activities under the project and law enforcement by Government of Pakistan.
The project has hat considerable success with community organizations. 612 Village Development Committees have been set up in addition to 50 women Village Development Organizations. The project has constructed 140 km of paved roads, 300 km of shingled roads, electrified 48 villages, built 545 irrigation channels, as well as 44 major and 140 minor drinking water supply schemes. In addition, over 19,000 acres have been afforested, and alternative crops, improved agronomic practices, livestock and poultry breeding have been introduced.
Three external contributory factors mitigating against poppy cultivation since 1996 have been the low price of opium gum, reduced availability of cheap trained labour and increased awareness with regard to the dangers of drug abuse. The ban on poppy cultivation was only enforced over the last two years (since 1998) to wipe out cultivation in remote, recalcitrant areas particularly in the Nehag valley which suffered from sudden recidivism in 1998. Here the Government lived up to its commitment by undertaking unprecedented enforcement action through the District Administration. This was followed by a resolute effort by the Government in 1999 to completely eradicate the remaining opium poppy in Dir district through engaging elders and resistant farmers in early dialogue.