Revolutions in the Afghan Desert: Water, green tech and illegal opium cultivation

Hosted by LSE IDEAS and LSE Literary Festival

Thai Theatre, New Academic Building,


Tim Buckley

Tim Buckley

David Mansfield

David Mansfield


John Collins

John Collins

Over the last fifteen years there has been a revolution in the deserts of south and southwest Afghanistan. Across the provinces of Helmand, Farah, Kandahar and Nimroz windswept sand and rock has been replaced by over 300,000 hectares of agricultural land. Driven by population pressure, opium prohibition and conflict 1.2 million people have settled in what was once uninhabitable desert land.

Tim Buckley is Chief Operating Officer in Alcis. Tim is well known and respected across geographic, defence and intelligence networks. He served in the British Army for ten years, providing critical GIS insight, expertise, support and advice to organisations worldwide. A GIS and remote sensing expert with over fifteen years' experience in conflict and fragile environments, Tim has recently spent over two years working within the counter narcotics and agriculture sectors in Afghanistan.

David Mansfield currently works as an independent consultant, advising a range of bilateral, multilateral and non-government organisations, including the UK Government, the EC, the World Bank, GTZ, as well as various NGOs on both policy and operational issues with regard to illicit drugs in Afghanistan and on alternative livelihoods in particular.

John Collins is Executive Director of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project. He is also coordinator of the Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy. John is coordinating a British Council funded project on “Illicit Drug Production and the Search for Peace in Colombia” as well as an LSE Research Division project on “Shifting Drug Strategies in Ireland and the UK”.

This event will be followed by a guided tour of the exhibition, Revolutions in the Afghan Desert: Water, Green Tech and illegal opium cultivation until 7.30pm.

LSE IDEAS (@LSEIDEAS) is a foreign policy think-tank within LSE's Institute for Global Affairs.  

Update Friday 24 February 2017, 1.30pm: due to unforeseen circumstances, Richard Brittan and Sharon Harvey will no longer be speaking at this event. LSE apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.

Suggested Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSELitFest

This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2017, taking place from Monday 20 - Saturday 25 February 2017, with the theme "Revolutions".


A podcast of this event is available to download from Revolutions in the Afghan Desert: Water, green tech and illegal opium cultivation

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

Twitter and Facebook

You can get immediate notification on the availability of an event podcast by following LSE public lectures and events on Twitter, which will also inform you about the posting of transcripts and videos, the announcement of new events and other important event updates. Event updates and other information about what's happening at LSE can be found on the LSE's Facebook page.


This event has been certified for CPD purposes by the CPD Certification Service. Self-Assessment Record forms will be made available for delegates wishing to record further learning and knowledge enhancement for Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPD) purposes. For delegates who wish to obtain a CPD Certificate of Attendance, it is the responsibility of delegates to register their details with a LSE steward at the end of the event and as of 1 September 2014 a certificate will be sent within 28 days of the date of the event attended by the CPD Certification Service.  If a delegate fails to register their details at the event, it will not prove possible to issue a certificate. (For queries relating to CPD Certificates of attendance after a request please phone 0208 840 4383 or email

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend that if you plan to attend this event you check back on this listing on the day of the event.