World Food Programme creates thousands of short-term job opportunities in Kunduz

By Muhammad Qasem

Amid increasing poverty and hunger in Afghanistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) is creating short-term job opportunities for thousands of Afghans. The WFP is implementing a project to hire local residents to clean the streets and collect garbage for 10 weeks in 10 neighbourhoods and eight districts of Kunduz city, Kunduz province. [Courtesy of Muhammad Karim Dashti]

KUNDUZ -- Amid increasing poverty and hunger in Afghanistan, the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) is creating short-term job opportunities for thousands of Kunduz residents.

The WFP is implementing a project to hire local residents to clean the streets and collect garbage for 10 weeks in 10 neighbourhoods and eight districts of Kunduz city, said Ghulam Sakhi Fayez, the WFP's chief executive in Kunduz province.

The first phase of the project started on July 30 for a seven-day period and provided 200 jobs, he said, adding that the project is funded by the WFP and carried out by the Afghanistan Social Improvement Organisation (ASIO).

The project's second phase will hire another 6,000 individuals on a rotating basis.

Local residents in Kunduz city hired by a World Food Programme (WFP) project clean gutters on July 30. [Courtesy of Muhammad Karim Dashti]

Local residents in Kunduz city hired by a World Food Programme (WFP) project clean gutters on July 30. [Courtesy of Muhammad Karim Dashti]

"Locals who are hired by the project receive a bag of flour, five litres of oil, 7kg of beans, 7kg of chickpeas and some salt for five hours of daily work over a seven-day period," he said.

About 10% of the hired individuals have been receiving regular food assistance from the WFP, according to Fayez.

The project was launched to create job opportunities, alleviate poverty, ensure food security, clean the city's streets and canals, collect garbage and protect the environment, he said.

Before the project was launched, the streets and canals in the city were littered with garbage, causing bad odours and various diseases, Fayez said.

Avoiding a refugee crisis is another objective of the project, he added.

Locals welcome employment

Local residents employed by the project welcome the work and say such projects can make a positive change in their economic status and in their communities.

Ghulam Rasoul, 45, who is working for the project, said his family has been receiving regular food assistance from the WFP over the past year.

"The WFP asked us to work for a week each month, and I accepted," he said.

"The project enables participants to feed their families and participate in cleaning up their city and environment."

Thanks to the WFP, 200 workers return home with a smile on their faces every week, said Masjidi Safi, 38, another participant.

"There are those among us who can provide only one meal a day for their families," he said. "We ... are grateful to the aid organisations that are assisting us in such a bad economic situation."

"I know people who have waited for work from dawn to dusk in Kunduz city but have returned empty-handed," he added. "The catastrophe of hunger would threaten lives if it were not for the aid organisations."

Aside from providing food for families, the clean-up work meets a pressing need, said Sabruddin Totakhil, a resident of Kunduz city.

Garbage piles up on the streets and blocks canals, causing flooding of streets and houses in the winter, Totakhil said.

"Every winter, with rainfall and snowfall, water gets into shops and homes," he said.

Essential international assistance

International humanitarian aid is mainly in the form of food assistance, which is directly distributed to the needy by non-governmental organisations and UN agencies.

The international community's support is critical, as 90% of Afghans are living below the poverty line, said Masoud Taheri, a civil society activist in Kunduz.

Thousands of Afghans would have starved to death in the past few months had the international community not provided humanitarian assistance, he said.

"Afghans' economic status has really worsened. Almost everyone has lost his [or her] income, which has led to growing poverty," he added.

"Afghans badly need international assistance," Taheri said. "Donor countries should ensure that their aid goes directly to needy recipients."

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and WFP have been particularly helpful in the city, said Kunduz Mayor Gul Mohammad Ilyas.

"Fortunately, we have been able to create thousands of job opportunities this year through these two important UN agencies," he said.

"Most projects are implemented by residents, local representatives and local elders. They understand the needs of their communities and make efforts to prevent abuse," Ilyas said.

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Various provinces of Afghanistan, especially Nangarhar, Laghman, Paktika, Khost, and Logar, have recently been hit by heavy floods, earthquakes, and unseasonal rains. People suffered a lot financially and personally. At this time, as the people of the Afghan society are living in extreme poverty, these natural disasters have made life even more miserable. Even now, they are in a situation where if they find food for the morning, they have nothing to eat at dinner, and I saw families with my own eyes who can make neither today nor tomorrow. So looking at this situation, it can be said that such projects are useful. It has created some job opportunities for the people. They are busy with it; if it is not, it is tough for them to survive.


Thanks to you for helping us and filling our stomachs two or three times, but this charity and assistance are like giving charity to the beggars on the streets. It would be better if you work on some sustainable projects. The international community can fund such projects with long-lasting impacts. Why don’t you create job opportunities for them so that they, and thereafter their children, and also their grandchildren can get benefit from them? Russia was better, it came to Afghanistan once and it has been decades since then, but Afghans still benefit from the projects completed by them.


Thanks for giving us charity and filling our bellies twice or thrice, but if you are thinking about us, you may stop this thing. We are made to beg despite that we have sound legs and hands. What does the short term mean? All those people sitting on the streets and begging now result from your short-term work. Why aren’t you providing them with good works that would help them, their children, and their grandchildren benefit? Russians were better. They came here and served here. Afghans get the advantage of the work they have achieved even decades before.


These things are like giving charity to someone on the road. It would be better to work on sustainable projects. The international community can finance sustainable projects. Unfortunately, during the past 20 years, when Afghanistan had good development opportunities, long-term projects were not focused on. On the one hand, the government officials were thieves; on the other hand, the international community had restrictions on the aid given to Afghanistan. For example, in the last 20 years, Afghanistan has been unable to produce electric power within the country from its vast waters. Electricity is the mother of all industries. When electricity is available in a country, people can build factories, manufacture various goods, store the products easily and keep them in cold storage, and then easily export them to other parts of the country and abroad.


Electricity is the mother of all industries. I liked this sentence very much. Indeed, electricity is the mother of all industries. Afghans have built an industrial park in Herat; however, the electricity came from Iran, but Afghans were regularly forced to obey Iran. After disagreements and protests by Iranian businessmen and an unjustified complaint by their government, Iran cut off electricity in the industrial city of Herat. As a result, Afghans became unemployed. Pakistan, which calls itself the citadel of Islam but is made up of the shit of Britain, has been shedding the blood of Afghans for the last 44 years to prevent them from freeing the areas on the other side of the Durand LINE. Electricity is the mother of all industries, and Pakistan is the mother of all terrorists.


Afghans' need for humanitarian assistance is endless. According to ToloNews, the World Bank recently reported that seven countries in the world are facing food and debt crises, including Afghanistan. The report stated that these crises would have devastating effects universally and the only solution is to import food to these countries. In this report, the World Bank has evaluated food security in the world. The World Bank's report indicated that,Afghanistan, Eritrea, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Yemen are the poorest countries that are facing food and debt crisis. The report states that natural disasters such as drought have damaged Afghanistan and reduced the production of wheat. Misbahuddin Mustaeen, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, said, “Farmers have been affected in this context, and this also affected agricultural products, the drought is not only in Afghanistan, but it has come all over the world.” The World Bank report suggested that increasing emergency assistance to these countries is one of the possible solutions. According to the report of the World Bank, sixty-nine percent of the people of Afghanistan cannot meet their food needs, and sixteen percent of families consume less than one meal a day. Unfortunately, these figures are increasing day by day. May God have mercy on the people of Afghanistan.


Such works are better than nothing, but the fact that the works are different is not enough. In the photo, you can see the cleaning work of the city that is being done. Here we are talking about cultures, customs... for instance; will an educated young man who has spent years in education do such a work? And if they do, will the officials feel ashamed in front of their conscience? The nation has returned to the state it was in decades before. Poverty and despair are spread throughout the country. What kind of situation is this, and how long will it last? Here it is about the employment and prosperity of the country. Prosperity can come when the youth go to our institutions and work; then, the country will move towards the path of prosperity. Here, it is important for the youth to have a regular and constant salary to have a monthly income. Set a path for their life, and find peace of mind. And if this is the situation as it is going on, it is an unfortunate situation. The people are starving. Our educated people are fleeing to other countries every day. In short, I would like to say that we have not even imagined such a bad situation.


It is a good step, but what would the people do after this? How long the given food package would be enough for them? What would a wage labor eat after that? What he would make himself busy with? There is no factory, nor any other way and solution. I think these international organizations are not honest in their work. No doubt that there is an emergency, but an emergency can’t be solved with such short-term activities. These organizations have sufficient financial resources as well as human resources and well-experienced staff. They should gather their experts and in cooperation with them develop a broad program, based on which the Afghans would have permanent jobs and would be able to live their lives by themselves and fulfill their needs. However, they don’t do this. Because most of them execute foreign countries’ plans and these countries never want the Afghans satisfied. Very well said that if you want a nation to obey you, you must keep its people hungry so that they don’t think about anything else except filling their stomachs.