In Afghanistan, the climate crisis isn't a distant threat, it's already here. And it's affecting communities in varied ways.

At Afghanaid, we know that not one solution fits all - which is why we work with a community-led approach to effectively and sustainably solve the specific challenges communities are facing in light of the changing climate.

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A bridge over troubled water

In Bamyan province, the cooler climate is perfect for potato cultivation. But warming global temperatures are making life harder for potato farmers.

In Shafiqullah's village, potatoes have been the chosen crop for generations. But warming temperatures in recent years have meant that the river that runs through their village - which used to be calm enough to cross on donkey-back - is regularly too dangerous to cross. This cuts them off from several other markets in their area, meaning the market closest to them is overstocked with all of their potato harvests.

This drives the demand of potatoes down, meaning year on year, the profits they are making from them is reducing, as Shafiqullah explained to us. "As you know, potatoes are one of the staple crops here in Bamyan province. Before, because we couldn't access a larger range of markets in our area, we were selling them for a lower price than we knew we could get for them. It was disappointing and made life hard."

Shafiqullah's village has been working with the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium, a collective of four NGOs in Afghanistan that, led by Afghanaid, are helping communities adapt to climate change. The Disaster Management Committee in Shafiqullah's village raised the increasing issues caused by the river, and alongside the ARC team, devised a simple solution: building a bridge (pictured above, Shafiqullah and community members on the bridge).

"Now that this bridge is built it makes our work easier, and everything has become very simple for us," Shafiqullah enthused, "Because of this bridge, we now sell one kilogram of potatoes for almost double the price!"

"Before this bridge, it was also very hard for children to go to school. It was too difficult to cross the river some mornings, so they were missing their classes. Now, parents have no worries about the children's journeys to school. So our children can continue to learn without a worry."

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A bioclimatic storage cellar

In a neighbouring village in Bamyan, rising temperatures have meant that their potatoes were spoiling at a much quicker rate. 

"Potatoes last longer if you can keep them stored in a cool, dark place," Najibullah, a member of the village explained, "So if we can store them, we can go to the market later in the year, when there are less of them available. But it's getting warmer here every year, so we can't store them in the places we used to."

Though a snowy and cold province, the warming climate in Bamyan has meant people's homes and outhouses are no longer cold enough to keep the potatoes fresh. This meant they couldn't keep them for a time when demand at the market was higher.

The bio-climatic potato storage structure in Najibullah's village

"With the ARC, we built this storage cellar, it has stairs down to a room under the ground. We harvest our potatoes, and then multiple farmers in this village store their bags in the cellar. We label them clearly. It is very dark and cool in there, so the potatoes last 2-3 months."

By ensuring farmers have the tools and infrastructure they need to effectively use their existing knowledge of their local markets, we can ensure warming temperatures don't disrupt their harmonious livelihoods, and support to yield greater profits than ever before.

A solar dryer

Ozra, a resilient farmer, knows well that an oversupply of fresh fruits and vegetables in local markets can push selling prices down. To ensure she can maximise income from her produce, for years Ozra has chosen to dry some of her produce as a way to add value. She has always used a traditional method passed on through her family, but it is very time consuming, and without certain equipment, the produce is exposed to contamination by dust, insects, and extreme heat, yielding a product that was not as high-quality as Ozra knew she could produce.

"Drying fruits and vegetables in the open air requires a lot of hard work,” Ozra shared, “Unfortunately, when we take our dried crops to the market, they often don't fetch the expected prices. Shopkeepers claim our produce is dusty or has darkened under the intense sun."

Recognising the effect this had on the yearly income streams of farmers like Ozra, Afghanaid sought to support them by equipping them with solar dryers, primarily benefiting women in the district, recognising the crucial role they play in processing harvested fruits and vegetables.

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Enrolling in the project, Ozra participated in training on how best to utilise solar dryers, a hygienic, and more time-efficient way to dry harvested produce. She was then equipped with her own solar dryer, enabling her to continue what she had learnt in her own garden.

Ozra can now produce even higher-quality dried fruits and vegetables with much greater ease. This not only ensures better storage options but also enables her to garner a higher income during non-harvest months, keeping a steady stream of income all year round.

Ozra, filled with optimism, anticipates that the introduction of solar dryers will significantly boost local incomes.

The solar dryers will save our fruits and vegetables from dust, rain, and dew during the drying process. We will be able to earn more from selling our dried agricultural products in the coming year.

Simple economics hacks with a big impact: help us support more farmers like Ozra

We work with communities across Afghanistan to strengthen their resilience in the face of the climate crisis. Help us continue this vital work by making a donation today:

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