Afghanistan | Covid response sows seeds of resilience for Mrs. Marjana

Afghanistan | COVID-19 response sows seeds of resilience


Almost three quarters of Uruzgan province’s economy is based on farming and livestock with remaining dependent upon trading and commerce. Uruzgan also happens to be one of the provinces reporting significantly low on gender equality particularly women’s performance on development indicators and participation in decision making. This coupled with the various recent shocks including the COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted women’s access to secure food, health, and social services in Uruzgan province. Traditional agricultural practices, lack of access to certified seeds and traditional food sources, and lack of home gardening knowledge contributed to low food consumption and high food insecurity in Uruzgan province. COVID-19 crisis and related containment measures on top of the recent shocks including the severe drought of 2018 and floods of 2019 contributed to the worsening of food and nutrition security and adverse impacts on the agriculture livelihoods particularly of vulnerable smallholder households in the province. Further, health care costs due to COVID-19 infection and related loss of access to income sources have aggravated these impacts.

This impact was particularly severe for Mrs. Bibi Marjana - a 47-year old single woman, who heads her household comprising her two children, daughter-in-law and herself. Mrs. Marjana lives in Sarshakhili village of Terinkot district of Uruzgan province. Mrs. Marjana was one of those unlucky who got infected by COVID-19 in May 2020. Further adding to her troubles was the fact that her elder son, who was the sole earning member of her household, left the home with his wife to go to another province in search of employment while leaving the COVID-infected mother (Mrs. Marjana) and younger brother to fend for themselves while she was still COVID-positive. Not able to make ends meet or afford the health expenses for her treatment, Mrs. Marjana and her family became extremely vulnerable. This triple trauma of getting COVID-infected, sole bread-winning son leaving home and now figuring out ways to generate income to ensure the availability of daily food for her family left Mrs. Marjana in a particularly vulnerable and desperate situation. With neither any agriculture landholding nor any local employment / daily-wage labour opportunities, Mrs. Marjana’s situation became quite precarious tipping her into adopting negative coping actions.