UN work-for-food initiative employs over 5,000 in Takhar

By Muhammad Qasem

Local residents take part in a road construction project funded by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Abdal village, Taloqan, Takhar province, on February 27. [Samiullah Samimi/Salaam Times]

Local residents take part in a road construction project funded by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Abdal village, Taloqan, Takhar province, on February 27. [Samiullah Samimi/Salaam Times]

TAKHAR -- The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) has increased its assistance to needy and vulnerable families in Takhar province through a new work-for-food initiative.

Mawhedullah Hameed, director of programmes at the Takhar Directorate of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, said 59 projects were launched in various districts and the centre of Taloqan, the provincial capital.

The WFP launched the initiative on February 27, and it will be implemented over two months.

"These projects include the rehabilitation, levelling and cleaning of destroyed rural roads; the construction of new roads; and the cleaning of irrigation canals for farmers," he said.

"Some 5,428 people from various localities are working to ensure the successful implementation of these projects," he said.

In exchange for working four eight-hour days per week, each labourer receives 50kg of flour, 5 litres of cooking oil, 4kg of beans and a 7kg packet of salt every 16 days so he can feed his family.

"The completion of these projects will also address the lack of roads for thousands of families and will provide irrigation water for farmers," said Hameed.

The projects aim to facilitate transportation for the public, provide irrigation water, create employment and fight poverty and hunger.

"Most rural roads in the province are in very bad condition," Hameed said. "There are no roads in some villages, and [residents] are faced with many problems in their commute, especially in the winter."

Fighting poverty and hunger

Local residents welcomed the implementation of such projects and called for their continuation.

Mirwais Hakimi, 37, a resident of Taloqan who works on one of the projects as a labourer, said before joining it, he could hardly earn enough money to support his family of four.

"I am a carpenter. In the current bad economy, no one wants to spend money on handmade wooden furniture," he said. "I have been unemployed for months and have faced economic problems."

"I am very happy now that I have a job and am able to earn a living and put halal food on the table for my family," he said.

"These projects enable us to find alternative ways to support our families," he added.

Tukhta Murad, 53, a woodcutter from Nahr-e-Chaman village in Taloqan, said he is happy to be working on the project.

"I have been earning a living through hard work for years," he said. "Usually, work is good in the winter, but after that, I am jobless for months."

"When I was unemployed, I didn't know how to feed my family of seven, but now, I am happy that I receive food and I am contributing to the rehabilitation of roads in my area," he said.

He called on the UN to launch similar projects in the province in the future to support the unemployed.

Improving road conditions

Most roads that connect the villages of Takhar were destroyed by fighting in previous years, and they need serious rehabilitation.

Short-term projects such as the WFP's address these problems to an extent, local residents and authorities say.

Most villagers face serious problems due to the poor condition of the roads while commuting to the markets and medical clinics, said Shamsuddin Qaderi, a member of a development council in Taloqan.

The implementation of such projects can address the public's transportation challenges, he added.

"Since most of the roads leading to villages are in rough terrain or have large potholes, even drivers avoid [them]," Qaderi said. "Sometimes residents are forced to transport patients to clinics on donkeys, because cars are not available."

"Work-for-food projects are very effective under the current circumstances because they help rehabilitate roads and because the public enthusiastically participates in such construction work," he said.

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Once I thought that extensive programs should be implemented instead of such small projects, but now I say that drops turn into an ocean. If every village has such a program, good gardens and pastures can be created, and agricultural production can increase. In this way, income sources will be provided for our people. Another essential thing is that in addition to the internal market of Afghanistan, markets for Afghan agricultural products should also be sought in the neighboring countries. For this, it is necessary to have the government of Afghanistan recognized by the neighboring countries and other countries. To acknowledge the government, the current rulers of Afghanistan must accept the conditions of the international community; They should respect human rights, guarantee freedom of speech, and include representatives of minorities and women in the government. And in addition to this, women should be given the right to work and girls to get an education.


Money for work; is very commendable work. With this, the employees who work on this project and leave home every day, work, and come in the evening, will feel proud of themselves and before their families, and they will always think that they are not sitting to beg; instead, they work, get tired, and in return they receive food. With this, unemployed people will be employed. The evil thoughts that arise during joblessness will disappear, and they will be busy all day. They will both be busy all day and will be mentally relieved. Yes, there will be physical fatigue, but the conscience will be at peace, and he will have contributed to building the country, which will be the ultimate peaceful work.


Work for food program is a good program for the residents of Takhar province. This program is better than that of AFN 4,300 given as humanitarian aid to poor people by the United Nations or WFP. The poor people of this province make their homeland prosperous, and from this work, they find a loaf of bread for their families. In my opinion, the United Nations should implement this process of work for food program in all provinces of Afghanistan. I am sure they will get a good result. Most of the people of the villages come to Kabul from different provinces of Afghanistan to find food for their families. Although their villages' roads are in bad condition, their irrigation canals need to be cleaned, their bridges are not suitable for passage by cars, and the Afghan government does not have enough access to do this work in their villages. My personal opinion is that the United Nations may develop the work for food program and stop these cash donations of AFN 4,300 provided as aids without work by the United Nations. A poor man from Badakhshan province comes to Kabul to find work, but there is no work in Kabul city, the rent of a car and the food cost is also a loss for that poor man, but in his province, his roads are destroyed, his bridges are broken, his irrigation canals are also unclean. If this poor man works in his village for a few days, his family does not have food to eat, they will get it. Because of this, people cannot work in their villages. The most necessary for thes