TALOQAN -- The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) has resumed a food-for-work initiative in Takhar province that aims to help families overcome economic hardship and fight extreme hunger.
On January 23, the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Directorate in Takhar launched rehabilitation and levelling work on a 5km-long rural road that will help address commuting problems for hundreds of households in Chal district, said directorate spokesperson Samiullah Samimi.
"The rehabilitation work will be completed in two months through a work-for-food project," he told Salaam Times.
More than 100 people will be employed to work on the project every day, Samimi said.
"The tertiary road under rehabilitation is located in Chal district's Jeer Tabar village. The road has been in very bad condition for several years, and people were facing a lot of problems while commuting, especially in the winter," he said.
"Fortunately, the project was approved, and work is proceeding," he added.
"Each worker will receive 50kg of flour, 5 litres of oil, 6kg of chickpeas, and 1kg of salt every month," he said. "The project not only will improve local accessibility issues but will also provide food for local residents."
The project is expected to be implemented in the provincial capital and 17 other districts soon, Samimi said.
"The project aims to give priority to the rehabilitation of rural roads and cleaning water intakes and irrigation canals in the remaining districts," he added.
Fighting poverty and hunger
Projects such as this one are positive steps toward creating job opportunities and reducing poverty and hunger, beneficiaries say.
Lal Mohammad, 48, a resident of Chal district who works as a labourer on the project, said he could hardly make enough money to support his six-member family before he started working on the project.
"I have been a mason for 10 years. There were no jobs over the past year, and the economy crashed, so nobody wants to build anything. Masonry work has become scarce, especially during winter," he added.
"I confronted severe economic and unemployment problems, but now that I have a job, I am so happy that I can earn a living and put halal food on the table for my family," he said.
Khodaiberdi, 42, told Salaam Times he was pleased to be working on the project.
"I prefer to be busy because the outcome is twofold: I get the chance to be active and at the same time make my country flourish and develop," said Khodaiberdi, who is a farmer.
He said he used to be very concerned for his family's welfare when he was jobless, but now "they promised us that we will receive 50kg of flour, a can of cooking oil, chickpeas and salt, and we are very happy".
"The project enables us to find alternative options to support our families," he added.
Local residents say they faced enormous challenges getting to and from markets and health clinics because of the condition of the roads in the past, but now they hope these issues will be resolved upon completion of the project.
Gul Mohammad Khairzada, 62, a local elder in Chal district, recalled how vehicles would get stuck in the mud and commuters would face serious problems, especially in the winter.
"When the repair and rehabilitation work started on the road, I could not stop crying from happiness. It is a vital road that will resolve accessibility issues for as many as 300 families who live in the district."
"The roads were poor because of potholes, and passengers could not commute comfortably," he added.
"Our people didn't know how to take their patients to Takhar centre to see a doctor in the winter because the road was impassable."
"We are now happy that our road is being rehabilitated and that we will be able to reach the centre of Takhar and other cities in all seasons," he said.