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Adapting targeted support to Kuchi pastoralists in Afghanistan for COVID-19

Promoting COVID-19-safe migration and livestock markets while tailoring livestock packages and cash-for-work schemes

Kuchi pastoralists, numbering around 2.4 million people in Afghanistan, are one of the region’s most vulnerable groups. Their condition has since been exacerbated by COVID-19 and containment measures related to the pandemic. As part of its emerging COVID-19 response, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Afghanistan has taken their unique needs into account in their intervention and re-programming design, which addresses both direct and secondary effects of the virus.

Activities are spread across different project streams and intervention typologies, some that predate the global COVID-19 crisis and others recently developed to address specific challenges posed by the pandemic as well as related restrictions. They include a modified livestock protection package to include the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hygiene kits, conditional cash transfers targeting herders and their families, support for the COVID-19-safe functioning of livestock markets and on-the-ground sensitization activities, the dissemination of RCCE and IEC materials, and contingency planning for the Kuchis’ safe transhumance to winter pastures.

FAO supports agriculture-based livelihoods to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 - Afghanistan

The interventions can be replicated in contexts where there are nomadic and semi-nomadic communities and where livestock keeping forms a significant part of local livelihoods. While short-term shocks to herding communities have been addressed with feed distribution and access to veterinary services, among other inputs, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis have only intensified the underlying vulnerabilities of Kuchi pastoralists. Going forward, more work will also be needed to amplify ongoing interventions that address these deeper drivers of vulnerability.

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