Several years on from their initial conception, and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seems more out of reach than ever before. With the COVID-19 pandemic reversing years of global progress in tackling poverty, women’s rights and climate action, sustained progress must be made to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for all. 

What is SDG 8?

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, highlights the pressing need to build livelihoods that help vulnerable populations build resilience and thrive, as well as improve emerging economies and strengthen them against shocks. Promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, alongside full and productive employment opportunities, the realisation of SDG 8 is vital to achieving other goals, such as SDG 1: No Poverty. 

The international economic contraction following the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced how intrinsic a strong global economy is to ensuring human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. However, realisation of SDG 8 will not come without addressing all global inequalities in tandem. A holistic approach to achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals is needed to ensure we can advance international prosperity, and tackle inequalities once and for all. Determination and resolve is needed now more than ever before. 

How does SDG 8 apply to Afghanistan?

The SDGs were established with the view of being realised everywhere by 2030, irrespective of country-specific contexts. Alongside global issues such as coronavirus, Afghanistan has faced its own complex challenges in the past two years, which have resulted in the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, leaving millions facing debt and unemployment. Since August 2021, Afghan men and women have been facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, resulting from economic collapse following the withdrawal of international troops and much international funding, as well as severe ongoing drought and other natural disasters. 

A staggering 80% of households in Afghanistan have experienced income reduction over these last 24 months, with 82% taking on debt just to get by, and an estimated 97% facing poverty. These factors, coupled with the astronomical increases in basic food and fuel prices across the globe, have left millions of families unable to make ends meet, earn sustainable incomes or work towards rebuilding Afghanistan’s economy. Many families face extreme difficulties accessing funds, further hampering economic stability.

The restrictions on women working introduced over the past year have also depleted the country’s workforce, stretching male family members and decreasing families’ ability to recover. Due to the sharp rise in unemployment, Afghanistan’s burgeoning youth population have also struggled in recent years to find meaningful work opportunities or gain professional development opportunities, having to rely on insecure jobs to try and make ends meet. 

As one of our core programme pillars, supporting ordinary Afghans in strengthening their livelihoods is a key component of our vision and mission, enabling them to play an active role in revitalising their local economies and shaping the future of Afghanistan. In order to achieve SDG 8, we work to provide sustainable solutions to Afghanistan’s economic and employment crises at the local level, ensuring those most at risk of feeling the impacts of such challenges are supported and able to build a better future. 

Read on to learn some of the ways in which our teams work towards the realisation of SDG 8 in Afghanistan:

  1. Involve communities in cash-for-work activities which benefit their villages and revitalise local economies

Through our development projects, we ensure that each community we work with plays an important role in input delivery, shaping the future of their own villages and local areas. From road building to watershed management, where possible we utilise the skills of local people, providing sustainable employment opportunities for men and women, whilst also improving their access to basic community services, improving transport links and implementing climate change mitigation structures.

Such cash-for-work schemes ensure families with limited opportunities are able to earn an income are able to earn regular and sustainable wages, enabling them to better provide for their families.

Read about the effectiveness of this approach in Chayabak village.

  1. Work with vulnerable men and women to strengthen and diversify livelihoods

Our work with rural households means that agriculture is often the sole income source for families, which can lead to food and economic insecurity when disasters strike or drought hits. We work alongside farmers to ensure they are better prepared against climate change related disasters and extreme weather events, providing updated tools, improved seeds and training to farmers to increase crop yields and thus their income.

We also work with livestock farmers to ensure they are able to better care for their livestock, ensuring communities have access to veterinary care, are well-informed about the health of their animals, and can access 

In addition, we work with community members to diversify their income sources. Through vocational training programmes, we introduce a variety of new income-earning opportunities to rural men and women, ensuring they do not have to solely rely on the often changeable yields of their farms and smallholdings. 

Supporting women and men to learn a variety of skills, from soap-making to mushroom farming, tailoring to motorbike repair, as well as providing valuable guidance in business management and savings, project participants are then able to create their own micro businesses, revitalising local economics and ensuring they have a reliable income source. In 2022, we supported over 83,000 people to diversify their livelihoods. With assistance on how to grow their businesses, these entrepreneurs are then able to employ others in their community, tackling local unemployment.

  1. Creating self-help groups to support women to earn an income

Given the current restrictions on Afghan women and girls in education and employment, it is imperative to find sustainable solutions that allow women to thrive in their communities, which is why we take an active role in ensuring women can gain vocational skills and set up their own micro-businesses. Through supporting women through initiatives such as to create their own kitchen-gardens, tailoring and dairy businesses, rural women are able to find fulfilling and sustainable ways to feed their families and contribute to household income, whilst also raising their status in the community and growing in confidence.

One revolutionary way to invest in the potential of Afghan women is through establishing self-help groups, to enable them to access capital, learn skills and start small businesses. Through these groups, they can then invest back into other women in the community. Through their new knowledge, financial resources and organised support networks, these groups of women can become extraordinary agents of change. 

Learn more about the transformative impact of self-help groups.

What can you do to help? 

Our supporters have ensured that we can continue to deliver projects that work towards the realisation SDG 8 in Afghanistan, but unfortunately, greater international assistance is required to facilitate lasting change. Nevertheless, your generosity has allowed us to create thousands more sustainable livelihoods in recent months, revitalising local economies and bringing communities one step closer to peace and prosperity. 

Set up a regular gift today, and you will allow us to plan ahead, ensuring we can deliver sustained support and enact longer-term projects to tackle widespread economic insecurity, and create and strengthen thousands more livelihoods. 

*All figures accurate as of August 2023