Safia's story

Young mother Safia lives in an isolated village in the north of Afghanistan, with her husband, their three daughters and two sons. Like many men in rural Afghanistan, Safia's husband works as a daily wage labourer, but due to the current economic climate, he has struggled to find employment opportunities, making it difficult for the family to make ends meet.

Life has been very hard and we were in such a bad situation. We were not able to fulfil our basic daily needs like food or put our children through education. I was always worried about how I could do more to help my husband to meet the basic needs of my family. Our situation was really bad, and we were food insecure.

Then, Afghanaid came to Safia's community to support men and women to protect themselves against the changing climate and develop climate-resilient livelihoods, ensuring they can earn a sustainable income in the face of economic and climatic shocks. When she heard about the project, Safia immediately enrolled, joining the project’s home-gardening programme, which works to increase access to healthy food in her local area.

As part of the project, Safia and other women received training on how to grow vegetables to establish their very own kitchen gardens, helping to combat food insecurity and malnutrition. After completing her training, she was supplied with everything she needed to set herself up, receiving vegetable seeds as well as gardening supplies such as sprinklers and equipment for building a plastic tunnel.

“Now, with my tools and knowledge I have cultivated lots of different vegetable seeds - corn, cress, spinach, red radish, coriander, and lettuce - and I work hard in my garden everyday." Safia told us proudly.

Fawzia's story

Fawzia lives in a small mountainous village, and had always had an interest in working in the agricultural sector. Despite this passion, she was never able to realise this dream, nor did she have the means to do so.

Living with her family of nine, and with her siblings too young to work, Fawzia's father was the family's sole breadwinner, working as a teacher to provide for the household. However, with the economic crisis meaning Afghanistan's teachers are often left unpaid for months at a time, the whole family was facing a difficult financial situation, and were unable to afford nutritious food. "Because only my father worked in our family, and his income was not enough to meet the basic needs of our lives. I suffered a lot," Fawzia told us.

When Afghanaid came to Fawzia's village, this all changed. "Fortunately, last year I was included in the training program of Afghanaid to create a home garden for producing vegetables, and after being trained, I was able to create a home garden for my family with the support of Afghanaid."

The ingenuity of rural kitchen gardens

Unfortunately, in many communities like Safia's and Fawzia's, recurrent floods and droughts induced by climate change have meant purchasing enough nutritious food has been a challenge. This, coupled with Afghanistan's severe economic challenges, has meant families are unable to solely rely on food bought at market to get by. 

Kitchen gardens and subsistence farming offer a sustainable and eco-friendly solution to national food security challenges, especially at times when global food supply in disrupted, such as the decrease in international wheat supplies throughout 2022. 

By equipping rural woman with easy-to-grow vegetable seeds, as well as the tools and training to help these crops prosper, we can help restore local biodiversity and create small carbon sinks across rural Afghanistan, lessening the impacts of climate change in their areas. 

Futures transformed

"We didn't have the ability to buy a variety of vegetables before, but fortunately, now there are always a variety of vegetables on our tables, which can make us healthy and live longer.” 

In addition to generating more nutritious food, these gardens also create a safe space in which women can work to release stress, and enables them to play an active role in contributing to household income without having to travel. Safia can now sell any surplus vegetables and herbs she grows at her local market. Through this new small business, she has been able to increase her household income and grow in autonomy and self-confidence.

In other words, these home-based gardens offer women a safe and rewarding means of earning and income, growing food, and gaining respect - something which is usually hard to come by in rural Afghanistan. Safia spoke to us about how transformative this support has been for her and her family.

I feel proud and am very happy that I am able to support my family and buy school supplies like books, pens, notebooks and clothes for my children. I also provide healthy food for my family and I am helping with daily expenses… Every day I sell 200 Afghanis worth of vegetables in the market and to my neighbours. I am so happy.

How can you help?

When you stand beside women like Safia and Fawzia, you can enable them to protect their communities from climate change, feed their families, and create a more prosperous and inclusive future for all. 

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*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.