KANDAHAR -- The World Food Programme (WFP) has created employment opportunities for 1,500 residents, including 1,000 rehabilitated drug addicts, in Kandahar province.
The participants in the project are building a retaining wall in Arghandab district of Kandahar province to protect residents and agricultural lands from floods.
The project started last October and is expected to continue until this June.
Co-ordination of Humanitarian Assistance, an Afghan NGO, is implementing the initiative, whose objectives are to give addicts an opportunity away from drugs and to rescue poor families from hunger, said Sultan Ahmad Wafa, the project manager.
"Floods and river water damage hundreds of residential houses and thousands of hectares of agricultural land every year along the river in Arghandab district," he said. "The retaining wall will contain river water and floods."
"Each worker in the project is paid 8,500 AFN [$95] per month. The duration of the project is eight months, but it could possibly get extended," he added.
Rescued from drugs, former addicts working on the project have returned to normal life, Wafa said.
Arghandab district lies near Kandahar city, and most of its infrastructure, including roads and bridges, was destroyed by years of war.
Helping addicts quit drugs
Shah Mohammad, 27, a father of two, was addicted to drugs for seven years. He started using drugs in Iran when he went there in search of work.
After being deported from Iran, Mohammad said he could not save himself from drugs because of unemployment, but he quit drugs after starting at the WFP project four months ago.
"I am very happy to be able to work as well as to quit drugs," he said. "Most of the youth in Kandahar who were suffering from unemployment and drug addiction are busy working for this project and have returned to normal life."
"I had to steal to find the money for drugs in the past. I would even steal stuff from my own house and sell it for the minimum price," he said. "But I have not used drugs for a few months since I started working and earning a living for my family."
Mohammad Omar, 65, is also working on the WFP project in Arghandab district.
He had been using drugs for more than 10 years, but now, while working on the project, he has given up using them.
Omar said his challenges in life have decreased since he started working and that his family of seven has been rescued from poverty and dependence on others.
"I had to use drugs because of mental stress and unemployment, but now that I am busy working, I haven't seen drugs even once in the past four months," he said.
"One of the conditions for working on the project was quitting drugs, which helped me quit them forever."
"Quitting drugs makes the future of my kids brighter," Omar added. "My children would have been addicted like me had I continued using drugs."
Rescued from 'unimaginable' poverty
Residents of Arghandab district say poverty levels in their district have fallen with the launch of the WFP project.
Faisal, 46, a farmer in the district, said floods during the rainy season used to destroy his farmland, which lies near the river.
Faisal is also working on the project and said he is happy that with the completion of the retaining wall, his farms will be protected from floods.
"This project is very valuable to us because we make money from working on it and our agricultural lands are saved from the flood as well," he said.
"I had a very small harvest this year because of drought," he said. "I don't know how would have I managed my life had it not been for this project. I am very happy that I receive monthly income and that our district is developing."
Local residents would never been able to build the retaining wall, establish public facilities and alleviate poverty without the WFP's assistance, Faisal said.
Poverty and unemployment have spiked in the district over the past year, making many residents dependent on international assistance, said Mohammad Essa, 63, a tribal elder.
"The retaining wall project has saved many households from poverty," he said. "Such projects are very valuable in the current situation, where poverty and economic problems have reached their peak."
"In addition to this project, some non-governmental organisations and aid agencies provide assistance to hundreds of poor households in the Arghandab district," he said.
"If it were not for such assistance, many people would starve to death," Essa said. "Poverty has reached unimaginable levels."
Buying and selling drugs is forbidden in the holy religion of Islam. Cultivation of this type of crop is prohibited. Islam is the religion of humanity, brotherhood, affection, and the good of mankind. Unfortunately, due to the wars in the country, our people were deprived of the knowledge of religion. Our young generation did not study appropriately at schools or seminaries. Neither they gained the benefits of the world nor that of the hereafter. Our religion does not allow us to grow drugs, but our people still grow poppies. Culturing this dirty plant and its trade and usage destroy human beings, but unfortunately, our people still grow this poisonous plant. Those who do it have little knowledge about religion. Otherwise, I am sure they would never have done it. I would advise the authorities to impose a strict ban on poppy cultivation, trade, and smuggling from one place to another and to impose severe punishment on the perpetrators. Another point is that the government should collect drugs from the city and rural areas and take them under supervision. It is better to make biometrics at the level of the country. They should be used in the country's development and be given some salary in return for their work. With this, drug addicts will make some profit for their families; their energy will be used in the development of the country, and at the same time, they will come under the supervision of the government. If the government does this, I am sure that our crime rate willReply
The current government of Afghanistan and international organizations should increase the efforts of similar projects. A regular plan should be made to carry out several such projects in a month, three months, six months, and a year. It helps people. This is a double help. On one side, this immediately relieves people from poverty and suffering. On the other side, it heals the pain of Afghans for a long time. Afghans need to build power dams, dig pits in the deserts to collect snow and rain, and plant them in Afghanistan. If we don't keep our snow and rain inside the country, it will flow to Pakistan and Iran. On the other hand, our region is drying up, and the level of water reservoirs is going down, which causes drought and land degradation. Salaam Times often writes on beneficial topics that we appreciate. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to WFP and other organizations that are building shelters for Afghans. Organizations and countries that are friends with Afghans should work on electricity and water dams and similar projects for Afghanistan. One cannot expect anything from Russia and China because they are dying of hunger. I request America, Germany, Canada, India, and France... to help Afghanistan build electricity dams so that Afghans can be freed from the need of Uzbekistan and other countries.Reply
If this is done, it will be perfect for finding jobs for these people and opportunities to live free from drugs. The reason most people get addicted to drugs is unemployment. Still, if there is work, there is a job, leaving the house regularly in the morning and coming in the evening, no one will pay attention to the drugs; instead, he will be busy with his work and have a good or average life. Another thing is that the authorities of the Islamic Emirate have banned the cultivation of poppies. If this measure is continued, I am sure that the number of drug addicts will decrease, and finally, it will reach zero, but the fact is that if they are provided with work.Reply
The World Food Program has create job opportunities for 1000 drug addicts who have given up drugs for the time being. World Food Program (WFP) has started one of the best programs of WFP by starting the project of retaining walls in Arghandab district of Kandahar province. In this project, the best thing is that for our addicted brothers who have got recovered, will receive a monthly salary of AFN 8,500 from the United Nations in exchange of their work. The structure of these walls has many benefits for the people of Arghandab district. They will preventing floods from destroying agricultural lands in Arghandab district. This project of WFP has provided 1000 job opportunities for drug addicts including 500 poor people. Recovering addicts and poor people of Arghandab district, which in this project (WFP) will be provided with a monthly salary of AFN 8,500, will provide the necessary food for the poor families. With the opening of these projects, the number of poor people in Afghanistan is decreasing day by day. Again, I remind you that job opportunities for addicts are the best work. Addicts are busy with work and they do not pay attention toward using the drugs.Reply