Families in rural Afghanistan face enormous challenges. Their access to productive land, water and local markets is often restricted by the consequences of climate change and increasing incidences of natural disasters. To make matters worse, after 40 years of conflict, many of these remote rural communities have lost the knowledge, skills and resources to adapt quickly enough to the now every-changing and unpredictable climate. Unsurprisingly, the poorest are hit the hardest; these families face futures locked into lives of hunger and poverty, with less food to feed their families or to sell at the market.

Afghanaid is busy supporting vulnerable families in Samangan and Badakhshan to plant pine and fruit tree saplings: it is a relatively simple solution with far-reaching benefits. We have trained over 560 local men and women how to successfully plant and take care of almond, apple and cherry trees and develop orchards; skills they can share with their neighbours and pass on to their children.

Planting pine and fruit trees both revitalises and protects their soil and helps them to develop orchards, so that they can grow enough good quality fruit to sell at the local market and provide their families with a vital new source of income. Afghanaid has specifically targeted vulnerable households, for example those headed by women or supporting disabled or chronically ill family members, giving them a much-needed opportunity to learn new skills and improve their incomes so that they can better support their families.

Establishing orchards not only strengthens the families’ livelihoods, it also helps to mitigate the impacts of climate change, protect their communities from cold winter winds and reduce levels of flooding, and protect the soil quality in their villages. With support from Afghanaid, these communities are strengthening their resilience to natural hazards and breaking the cycle of poverty.