KUNDUZ -- The Agency for Technical Co-operation and Development (ACTED), a French NGO, has established 15 greenhouses in Takhar province aimed at creating employment opportunities for impoverished women.
The greenhouses were set up in Baharak and Khwaja Ghar districts, as well as in Taloqan, the provincial capital.
Each of them has an area of 120 sq. metres, a length of 15 metres, and a width of eight metres, according to Bashir Ahmad Siddique, director of ACTED in Takhar province.
"As many as 300 widowed, vulnerable and poor women were selected as the beneficiaries of the project based on their interest in their faming," he said on July 27.
The 15 greenhouses, built near the women's residences, employ 20 women each.
"The greenhouses have been handed over to the beneficiaries along with equipment and vegetable seeds," Siddique said.
"The project aims to empower women to become economically self sufficient. The economic situation of the majority of the families is dire; therefore, creating jobs will encourage women to become hopeful about their future," he added.
"The project beneficiaries have already received the required training on planting and harvesting techniques. They have received hands-on help on best practices to maintain and care for their greenhouses," Siddique said.
Women taking part in the project say that they hope to support their families by working in the greenhouses.
"I used to grow vegetables ... I was enjoying a good life. However, the situation has gone worse over the past several months since I became jobless," Sultanat, 42, a resident of Taloqan city who goes by one name, told Salaam Times.
"I am grateful to Almighty Allah that I have been offered an opportunity to work in the agriculture sector once again. I hope I will be able to grow vegetables and sell the produce to make a living for my six-member family," she said.
"We started planting cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, coriander, mint and other seasonal vegetables as soon as they handed over the greenhouse to us," she said.
Zakira Rezaei, who also works in one of the greenhouses in Taloqan city, said her husband is ill.
"I have no other choice but to feed my family."
"I am very happy that I am working, and hopefully, I will be able to support my family and children going forward," she said.
"Women should be allowed to work so that they become empowered," Rezaei said, adding that current restrictions are isolating and depressing women.
ACTED provides humanitarian relief aimed at improving food security and livelihoods in Afghanistan with funding from the French Foreign Ministry.
Afghans in general are welcoming humanitarian relief provided by NGOs in recent months.
Unemployment, especially among youth, has increased since last August, and job seekers are eagerly pursuing education and vocational skills.
Humanitarian relief organisations have played an effective and crucial role in supporting poor families, especially in providing jobs for men and women, said Khodadat Khaliqi, a resident of Takhar province.
"We appreciate that relief organisations along with the United Nations are implementing projects to fight hunger and distribute emergency food aid for poor and destitute families," he said.
"Such interventions are vital as many in Afghanistan, including women and men, are jobless and face incredible challenges," he added.
"Many families cannot afford one meal a day. They are indeed vulnerable and desperate and deserve to be considered as the priority group for receiving humanitarian assistance," he noted.