FAO in Afghanistan

Life-changing hens and eggs for rural Afghan women

Poultry keeping provided Naseema's family a sustainable income. ©FAO

FAO assists women-headed households with poultry keeping packages to generate a sustainable income, build near-term resilience and improve food security and nutrition

“I am Shir Ahmad, I am a 60-year-old man, and I am blind. I lost my sight at war and can no longer work and get an income, unfortunately”.

“My name is Naseema, and my father's name is Wali Mohammad. I am from Sange zor village, Farah province”.

Shir and Naseema have been married since they were teenagers. Traditionally, Shir has been the breadwinner of the family, while Naseema has worked at home and looked after their six children and household chores. Due to Shir’s disability and thanks to Naseema enthusiastic spirit, their roles have switched now.

“FAO provided us with a poultry package consisting of 30 pullets, three months of feed, construction materials for building the coop, as well as poultry coop equipment [feeders, drinkers],” tells Naseema, poultry farmer.

Thanks to the funding provided by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, FAO has assisted 1 500 households in Daikundi, Farah and Kunar provinces with this poultry package.

Assistance for women and vulnerable households to escape poverty and hunger

Thanks to the regular and sustainable income that it can generate, backyard poultry farming is a useful livelihood intervention to raise women-headed families out of poverty and hunger.

From being reliant on charity and assistance from other relatives and neighbours before receiving this package, Naseema’s household currently generates 100 AFN per day (USD 1.3). “I sell surplus eggs in the local market. What I earn covers more than half of the family’s basic food needs, such as rice, oil, wheat flour, and I can even buy school supplies for my two children who are still going to school,” explains Naseema, who received assistance at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In rural Afghanistan, women are often not allowed to work outside their home. Together with other activities like livestock rearing, backyard poultry keeping has proven to be a great source of home-based income for women. “The assistance provided by FAO is very useful. It has significantly improved our livelihoods,” says Naseema.

Building resilience, improving nutrition and more

Poultry keeping constitutes an important safety net in the event of drought. Chicken can be easily sold to cover immediate needs and the activity does not require much water. It is therefore an effective way to build near-term resilience; for instance, in light of the anticipated impacts in livestock and agricultural production induced by the complex and recurrent weather event La Niña.

Poultry also contributes to improving household and community food and nutrition security significantly. While white meat is a leaner source of protein, eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, high-quality protein, good fats, and various other nutrients. “These eggs have definitely improved the family’s nutrition while also helping us save money on purchasing eggs and chicken for our family’s consumption,” says Shir.

The recent improvements in her life have encouraged Naseema to scale up her business. “I would like to get a small size hatchery unit, which will make our life much better,” says this poultry farmer. The cost of this unit, which helps produce 80-day-old chicks in 21 days, is around USD 320. Naseema keeps saving for it but she dreams of getting some support to be able to buy it sooner rather than later, and continue growing her business.

The USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance provided generous funding for FAO to assist women-headed households with backyard poultry chicken packages in Daikundi, Farah and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan.