Nestled in a remote valley within the dramatic mountain ranges of central Afghanistan, Arzo’s* small village is a long way from the nearest market, and families here are entirely reliant on agriculture for their survival. With steep hillsides to grow crops on, livestock play a crucial role on their small farms and women like Arzo are usually in charge of their care. Despite this, few have the necessary skills, knowledge or resources to properly look after their livestock, or to maximise their productivity, making it difficult for them to provide for their families. 

 

“In the past, our animals would die every year,” she told us, “The animals we did have were weak and often became sick or injured, as we did not know how to look after them properly.”

Over the past decade, unpredictable and extreme weather conditions have made life increasingly difficult for families like Arzo’s, who struggle to adapt to the changing climate and, with limited capacity to earn an income or build up savings, they struggle to recover when crises hit. “We had to rely on what we could grow ourselves for our food, which was not enough,” she said.

When Arzo took part in one of Afghanaid’s training courses, she gained the skills she needed to become self-sufficient.

“I learned how to care for our livestock better and how we can get more from them. Now, we vaccinate our animals to protect them from diseases and every morning we give them fodder, water and salt, and keep them clean.”

 

“Afghanaid also trained a local vet who we take our animals to if they are sick or injured. If one of our animals is wounded and the wound is deep, I go to the vet, but if it is not too deep, we have learned how to wash the wound by ourselves with water and salt. Thanks to this, our animals grow quickly and they are living much longer.”

Now we have four cows, twenty sheep, three goats and a donkey. We do not overload our donkey, and we know when he needs to have a rest. Now he is healthy and strong and helps us to collect and transport animal manure and fertiliser to the land, and harvest crops. Thanks to him, we can do much more on our land, and produce much more food.”

This kind of support is life-changing for women like Arzo. Not only does it provide her family with a sustainable source of food and income, it also helps her to gain knowledge, confidence and respect. 

“I also took part in a training course run by Afghanaid through which I learned how to make cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products that are good quality. Before, we had some milk but it was not a lot and it was not very good quality. Afghanaid then helped us to form links to market traders, which means we can earn an income from what we make and our donkey can carry us to the market to sell our products, or purchase what else we need.”

Currently, 93% of Afghan families are not eating enough food, and this percentage rises to almost 100% in families headed by women. With the help of our supporters, Afghanaid has been able to reach over one million people with emergency assistance since August 2021, but families now urgently need support to feed themselves and get back on their feet. 

Thanks to her small business selling the dairy products she makes, Arzo’s family has been able to weather the storm of the past year, but thousands of other women just like her are still struggling.

“With Afghanaid’s support, we have been able to make our lives better. Right now things are difficult for people. Since last year, the price of food and other items has increased, but our animals are healthy and we have food to eat and a way to make some money.” 

Until 30th September, every £1 donated to our By Her Side appeal will be doubled by the UK government. That means you have the opportunity to double your impact and transform a woman’s life. With your help, we can ensure that twice as many strong women like Arzo have the support, training and tools they need to produce more, feed their families, and increase the availability of nutritious food in their communities. 

One year on from the Taliban takeover, thousands of women and their families are not eating enough food. And yet, when given the opportunity, women can be powerful forces for change. You can be part of this change. 

Please give what you can today to double your donation, and let Afghan women know we have not forgotten about them.

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*Please note, her name has been changed to protect her privacy. Find out more about UK Aid Match and get your questions answered.