Number of female beggars increases in Mazar-e-Sharif amid growing poverty

By Muhammad Qasem

This photo taken June 10 shows a group of women begging for money on a sidewalk in Mazar-e-Sharif. [Muhammad Naweed Andeshmand/Salaam Times]

This photo taken June 10 shows a group of women begging for money on a sidewalk in Mazar-e-Sharif. [Muhammad Naweed Andeshmand/Salaam Times]

MAZAR-E-SHARIF -- The number of woman beggars in Mazar-e-Sharif city has increased over the last two years, as poverty worsens.

Nooria, 38, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif city and a mother of four, said her life in the past 18 months has been tough and that she has been forced to resort to begging.

"I lock the door on my children at home every morning and leave them in God's hands and beg for money on the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif until the evening to feed them," she told Salaam Times.

"If I manage to get 20 to 50 AFN (23 to 58 US cents) a day, I buy them bread and return home with something. But most days, nobody helps me and I return home disappointed and empty-handed," she added.

"When my children look at me so innocently and I think about them, I lose hope for their future," Nooria said.

Nafisa, 45, spends the entire day begging at the gates of Imam Ali Shrine in the city.

She said she is unhealthy.

Another beggar had a similarly tragic story.

"I have no one: no husband, no home, place or life. I have nothing except God. I spend the 10 or 20 AFN [12 to 23 cents] that I receive as charity on food and medicine. What else can I do? To whom should I complain?" asked Nafisa, who has a daughter.

Maliha, 52, said her lack of a breadwinner forced her to beg daily in the city.

"I lost my husband 10 years ago, and my only son became a drug addict two years ago and left home," she said.

"I earn a living by begging and collecting alms. I also look after my daughter-in-law and grandchild."

"I would never beg if I got support," she added.

Unemployment concerns

Begging is the only option for survival for some Afghans amid increasing poverty and unemployment in the country.

"In the current situation in which most are living in poverty, the government or aid agencies must support impoverished households by prioritising the needy," said Abdul Qadeer Nezami, 28, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif.

"Unfortunately, unemployment is at its peak, and this has affected women the most," Nezami said.

"Female beggars can be seen on every road, which is concerning."

"The international community has provided many services in the last two years, but there is still a need to provide serious support to such [residents]," he said, adding that authorities must collect beggars from the city and support those who really need help.

Noorullah Aslamyar, 41, a labourer in Mazar-e-Sharif city, said even labourers can hardly find work one day out of the week.

"I wait for work every day, but there is no work. I feel humiliated and distressed. How can I feed my family of five and provide for them if I don't have work?" he said, adding that the price of food is on the rise.

He said he waits for hours every day on the side of the road, where labourers gather, waiting to be hired, but that no one comes to pick him up.

"The economic situation in Afghanistan is worsening, making it very difficult for the needy to earn a living," he said.

Serious need for support

Many residents say hunger would threaten millions of Afghans, especially women and children, if the international community discontinues aid.

Mahmood Sediqi, 53, a political activist in Mazar-e-Sharif, said creating jobs and addressing social problems are among authorities' responsibilities.

"The country will face a humanitarian disaster if the current authorities do not normalise Afghanistan's relations with the international community and if they fail in restoring international aid to Afghans," he said.

Poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan have increased and should be taken seriously, said Sediqi.

Zabiullah Noorani, the Balkh provincial spokesman, said beggars and the poor, especially women, have existed in the province for many years and that officials are trying to provide them with humanitarian assistance.

"Fortunately, the commission responsible for finding and aiding panhandlers has started its activities in Balkh province," he added.

"Beggars' biometric data will be registered and each will receive a monthly allowance of 2,000 AFN [$23]."

"We are trying to create work opportunities for ... needy individuals to decrease unemployment," he told Salaam Times.

Those begging on the street will be identified and referred to relevant agencies based on their needs, said Faizullah Faizi, director of the Commission for Identifying Beggars in Mazar-e-Sharif.

"Disabled beggars will be referred to the Department of Martyrs and Disabled. Injured and sick ones will be referred to the Department of Public Health for treatment, and those who are needy will be referred to the Red Crescent," he said.

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Many women are victims of past wars and have no guardians who beg daily to feed their children. They sit all day in the middle of the roads intending to beg for charity, but if the government provides them with a place to work, I am sure they will stop begging. Most of these women, whose number is increasing daily, are responsible for caring for their families. Their children want food; they want water; they want clothes; they want to compete with other children; they want medicine... I heard that the guardians of these women's families were killed in past wars, and they have no one to protect and care for them. Besides criticizing the aid agencies, they request the government not to ignore them. If a proper plan is prepared for the collection of beggars, not a plan with a media appearance and campaigns are made for a few days, then everything ends. With these women who beg, children sit in the sun, wind, and rain, whose future is full of problems.


Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, the doors that should be opened and those that should be closed are left open. Instead of letting women go to work, where they may work in a clean environment, they are prevented; however, from among those sitting on the roadsides and begging, no one was found to ask them; Mother, sister, daughter… why are you sitting here? No one to ask for the reasons. If they do not have anyone at home, they get provided with aids, but if she is a professional beggar, they may be asked to sit at home. For many years, millions of dollars come to Afghanistan, but still, the situation of the people did not change from 19 to 20… May Allah bless our people particularly. Amen.


Begging has become a means of earning bread in Afghanistan. Afghan women who have lost their husbands, brothers, and fathers in the war, and because of the conditions of Afghanistan where women do not have the right to education from the beginning to the end, they resort to begging out of necessity, and they have a difficult life. The children who should go to schools and get education, their mothers lock them alone at home, and they go out to beg from morning till evening. We request the current government to identify the beggars on the street and later send them to the relevant departments based on their needs, so that their needs are taken care of and they stop begging.


Unfortunately, during the 20 years of the Republic, when thousands of millions of dollars came to Afghanistan, nothing special was done to improve the lives of civilians. There was no clear plan for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Several organizations did some work, but nothing has been done to create sustainable sources of income for the people of Afghanistan. For God's sake, they bought electricity from other countries. Still, Afghanistan's water flows freely to Pakistan and Iran, and no money was allocated from the billions of dollars to build dams on the Kunar River, Panjshir River, and Amu River,... And on dozens of other rivers that have a lot of water, power dams should be built. These poor people will be treated like this all their lives and beg for food like this unless Allah changes their situation.