Afghanistan's barren hillsides

Living in one of Afghanistan's most rural districts in the north of the country, young mother Noor has always found it difficult to make ends meet. Whilst the area in which she lives used to be covered in lush trees and vegetation, decades of conflict, natural disasters and illegal logging have left Afghanistan's mountains degraded and barren. Without adequate tree cover, Afghanistan's hillsides became even more at risk of droughts and floods, exacerbating many of the challenges rural communities were facing, and hampering their ability to weather shocks. 

With the majority of remote Afghan families depending on Afghanistan's natural resources to earn an income, this vegetation scarcity meant many households lost their primary income source, having to rely on insecure work to sustain a livelihood. After the economic crisis hit in 2021, Noor's husband, a daily wage worker, found it even more challenging to earn enough to feed his family.

We always suffered from severe economic problems, due to the illiteracy of myself and my husband, we never had enough income for a good life. My husband and I were very always worried and and disappointed on the days when my husband could not find work. And we were suffering from the hunger of our children.

Saplings: a secure livelihood

To tackle this deforestation, replenish Afghan landscapes, revitalise remote communities' ability to earn an income and strengthen women's standing in their villages, Afghanaid launched a transformative new project in Noor's village. After speaking with her Community Development Council, Noor was introduced to our team and enrolled in the programme, where she was provided with training on how to steward a sapling nursery: a designated area where young trees can be cultivated and nurtured before being transplanted into their permanent outdoor location, ensuring the healthy development of young trees in optimal growing conditions. 

After learning the required skills, Noor was equipped with the necessary materials to start her own tree nursery. As these nurseries can be established in the private home gardens of women like Noor, this project creates a safe and custom-appropriate livelihood for women in extremely remote areas, who are often unable to work far from home due to factors including childcare responsibilities. 

Since starting her nursery, Noor has grown ten kilograms of walnut seeds, seven kilograms of almond seeds, and four kilograms of pistachio seeds, an incredible achievement as the sole steward of the nursery. When these saplings grow large enough, Afghanaid will buy them back to utilise in watershed landscaping projects in Noor's local area, improving the whole communities' ability to mitigate the effects of climate change and earn an income. With these profits, Noor is able to invest back into her new micro business, which is going from strength to strength:

Since the day I was trained in the tree nursery management, I have been doing this job with great interest, because growing seedlings is a very good job and profitable. Now, I am hopeful for the future because I can grow more seedlings and sell them in the market to earn for myself and my family for a good life.

Trees being planted on hillsides

How can you help?

When you stand beside women like Noor and their rural-dwelling families, you can enable them to protect entire communities from climate change and create a more prosperous and inclusive future for all. 

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*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.