Work for Wheat project provides employment for thousands in Takhar

By Muhammad Qasem

Local residents take part in a road construction project funded by the WFP in the suburbs of Taloqan, capital of Takhar province, on April 25. [Samiullah Samimi]

Local residents take part in a road construction project funded by the WFP in the suburbs of Taloqan, capital of Takhar province, on April 25. [Samiullah Samimi]

KUNDUZ -- The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) has created employment opportunities for more than 10,000 individuals in Takhar province to help relieve families from economic hardship and the risk of extreme hunger.

The WFP will distribute more than 122 tonnes of wheat to Takhar workers through an initiative called the Wheat for Work project, said Azmat Noor Mohammad, director of the Takhar Provincial Directorate of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

"We have launched 26 projects, prioritising infrastructure projects, including repairing and rehabilitating rural roads and cleaning water intakes, dams and irrigation canals that have been affected by floods and other natural disasters, so that farmers can conveniently irrigate their land," he said.

"The projects have been launched in Taloqan, the Takhar provincial capital, and in 16 districts, where more than 10,000 unemployed individuals will find work and receive wheat in return for their work," Mohammad explained.

The projects started on April 21 and will continue for two months, he said, adding that each worker will receive 10kg of wheat daily.

Alleviating poverty, hunger

Such interventions are a positive step to create jobs and alleviate poverty and hunger, which have substantially increased throughout Afghanistan since last year, say the beneficiaries of Work for Wheat.

Mohammad Zahir, 45, a resident of Taloqan city, was working as a day labourer and could hardly earn enough to feed his six-member family.

Since he was unemployed for almost nine months, his situation has worsened.

"I would return home empty-handed every day and did not know what to do and how to feed my family," he said.

"Fortunately, since last week, I have started working on a project that involves paving the roads," he said on May 2. "I receive 10kg of wheat daily in return for my work."

Thanks to the WFP project, "I am better off now than in the past," he said.

The market price for 1kg of wheat is about 200 AFN ($2.29).

Abdul Samad Ahadi, another beneficiary of the project, said he is happy to be working.

"I had nothing to eat, nor did I have money to buy food. Now that I have income, I can put food on the table for my family," he said.

"I prefer to be busy and enjoy working so that I can earn a halal income for my family," he said. "I was very concerned about being jobless. I had hopes to continue working and to build my country."

"I work from 8am to 4pm now. All of the people who work with me are impoverished and vulnerable," he said. "These projects help us find a much needed alternative way to support our families."

Benefit of continued assistance

Many Takhar residents appreciate the timely intervention of international donor organisations that have been able to address most of the public's problems related to unemployment and hunger.

Such humanitarian assistance will alleviate the economic and food crises in the country, and also help stem illegal immigration to neighbouring countries, they say.

"The UN and donor countries did not forget the Afghan people as they are going through difficult times," said Mohammad Azim Rasa, a civil society activist in Takhar province.

"They have continued to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families to the extent their resources allow."

"We witnessed how these organisations provided humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families during the winter. Even now that the winter has passed, they continue to provide such assistance in other areas across the province," he said.

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Once again a temporary work and another step to make more and more people dependent on the government and on international aid. I do not understand, do the people who are working for a short period of time in exchange for wheat, only need the wheat or do they have other needs too? Why don't the government and partner organizations provide aid to the people to save them from need and dependence forever instead of such temporary, harmful and egotistic programs? How long will this humanitarian aid last? What will these people do after the aid ends? If it is a question of budget, the government and agencies should help 100 people or even less in order to get a regular cash income instead of helping 10,000 people with the wheat. Hopefully, such projects will pave way to long-term and sustainable programs.


Implementing such projects is a hundred times better than unemployment and begging, as someone will get employed and receive wheat/cash in return for the work. When people become unemployed, they harm their community and other communities, but if they are busy, they will never do bad things in society. We see some organizations giving food to people for free. Never do this for free. Instead, leaders of the organizations should provide something that will keep the people busy and distribute the items. On one side, this will eliminate poverty and hunger and avoid problems in the community. On the other side, people will not complain to the authorities about why they are unemployed. There is a lot of help out there right now, but I think this kind of help is unprecedented. Such humanitarian assistance reduces the economic and food crisis in the country. It also essentially prevents migration.


I agree with your opinion; however, the question is that, even if these projects were useful in their time, they can still not fulfill peoples’ needs. On the other side, when such projects end, people will get jobless again, and again they will need to wait until any other donor is found and implement such a project. These projects made our people lazy, idle, and beggars during the past forty years, and took the stimuli of work and skills from them, and they gave people the feeling that you may sit and we will provide you with free money and food.


This is a good idea. Such small and large organizations have to come together and form a single organization. If aid comes from any country, they might distribute it so that people can get rid of joblessness and work for the improvement of the country. A type of cavity has been created in Kabul's hills to block rainwater and prevent the water level from dropping in Kabul. This is a project I believe is being carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture. Trees may also be planted in these pits, thus making the country's capital greener. The digging must continue, and the project must be continued. However, the work should not be restricted to Kabul. It should be expanded to other provinces., and rainwater should be utilized in Afghanistan. This way, drought will be prevented, and the country will get green. It will also prevent water flow to our hypocritical neighbors, Pakistan and Iran.


I also like this opinion. The digging caves on the hills located opposite Ahmad Shah Baba Mena may also be extended. We need to keep our water inside our country. This way, on one side, our country will get green, and on the other side, the level of our country's water will not go down as much as it can cause drought and diseases. Drought causes many dangerous diseases.