FAO in Afghanistan

FAO’s cash for work revitalizes rural livelihoods

Saeedullah and his sister inside their single-room house @FAO

Saeedullah, 25-year-old head of a seven-member family in Wama district of eastern Nuristan province, lives with his family under the old ceiling of a small dark room in Mandok village. The shelter, provided to him by the community members, is barely good to accommodate the family. Saeedullah’s family is lacking proper access to daily food and hygiene. The small piece of land he owns doesn’t suffice for his family’s needs, thus, they receive charity from other villagers on some occasions.

He was supported by FAO through cash for work intervention, funded by Sweden. Cash for work assistance by FAO boosts short-term income for rural families while improving infrastructure through rehabilitation of local irrigation and soil-water conservation structures, livestock watering points, flood protection walls and kareez (underground canal system). Members of the local communities are temporarily employed as daily labourers in return for some cash. The introduction of cash flows through this intervention revitalized the local economy whilst the involvement of local communities ensured sustainability of the results.

Saeedullah’s family depend mainly on livestock for their livelihood. He is the only male breadwinner of the family. In August last year, FAO selected him as a beneficiary of cash for work assistance in rehabilitation of water infrastructure project. “I was informed through the Community Development Council in my village that FAO will provide emergency assistance packages to vulnerable families,” the 25-year-old head of the family said. He was hopeful that he could receive several packages as his family’s condition was very poor, but FAO could support each family with only one package. “I chose the cash assistance which was extremely important for my family’s survival.”

After Saeedullah was selected to receive cash for work assistance from FAO, he was faced with a life changing tragedy. He lost his two legs in a car accident on his way from Nuristan to the neighboring Kunar province for labour, and his father died in the same incident.

The project team would have been forced to drop his name from the list of beneficiaries as he was no longer able to work with the project if his mother hadn’t come forward to the family’s rescue. Saeeduallah’s mother, 43-years-old Aziza, decided to work on behalf of her now disabled son under the cash for work intervention to earn some money and support her despairing family. Therefore, he is supported by the project through his mother’s work.

The family received 3,850 Afghanis (close to USD 50) for ten days of work from Saeeduallah’s mother. “We are going to use the money to provide food for the family and cover basic healthcare of the children,” Saeedullah said. “I will spend some money on the livestock to protect them from diseases,” the villager from Nuristan added.

FAO assistance to Saeedullah helped improve the situation of his family but the money will be enough to cover his expenses for only a few months. Substantial humanitarian assistance and development work are required to help vulnerable families like Saeedullah’s to pass through these challenging times. “I request you to raise my voice to other aid agencies as well so they can support my family,” Saeedullah asked the project team.