Windows of Happiness

Nafisa's children in front of her new house, which she built with the income from her work. She has motivated other local women to start agriculture. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat / 2017

15 October 2017, Herat – ‘Nafisa’ (name changed), a 42-year-old woman from Zinda Jan district in Herat, remembers the bad old days, when she could not feed herself, her husband, or their seven children.

“Our economic situation was very bad,” she recalls. “We lived in a ruined house, and our only source of income was from shelling pistachio nuts.”

Back then, Nafisa looked after her husband, Rahman, who was suffering from tuberculosis. She was advised to give fruit to her husband regularly.

“Being so poor, I used to give the fresh part of the watermelon to my husband, and my children and I would eat the rind,” she says.

Like many women in Afghanistan, Nafisa desperately needed to find a way out of poverty. Agriculture was the path she found. 

Highlights

  • Nafisa a 42-year-old woman, runs a greenhouse in Herat province.
  • She grows cucumbers, garlic, fenugreek and tomatoes.
  • UNDP has installed 44 biogas systems in rural areas across Afghanistan.
  • Nafisa had a difficult time in the past, she was very poor and was not able to look after her children.
  • UNDP’s CCAP provided her with a greenhouse, vegetables seeds and training.
  • Nafisa has built a house for her family with the income from her vegetable harvests.

“I went to the Department of Agriculture in Herat, and asked for some greenhouse facilities. Eventually, they agreed.”

Nafisa and her family are beneficiaries of the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), which is implemented by UNDP and Ministry of Agriculture. The project provided her with a greenhouse, seeds for vegetables, as well as the necessary training to become a successful small-scale farmer.

Greenhouse in Herat - Windows of HappinessNafisa a 42-year-old woman, runs a greenhouse in Herat province. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat / 2017

“At the beginning, the work was very difficult, but we enjoyed it,” says Nafisa. “When the first harvest came, we felt as if the windows of happiness had been opened to us.”

To begin with, Nafisa explains, she did not make much money, but day by day, her income increased. Today, she earns about $30 per day. Her family live in a new house, built with the money she made from selling her produce. She can provide her family with food, clothing and other necessities. She is even able to save money for the future.

Rahman, her husband, has happily recovered from his illness, thanks to medicines she was able to buy. Today, he helps her with marketing their produce. 

“Together with four other women villagers, we produce cucumber, garlic, fenugreek and tomatoes,” Nafisa explains. “We harvest around 160 kilos of cucumbers every other day.” 

Nafisa is grateful to the CCAP project for the opportunity it has allowed her. Inspired by her example, other women in the district have started growing vegetables to market as well. With luck, the ‘windows of happiness’ will open for them too.

Greenhouse in Herat - Windows of HappinessNafisa's daughter eats a cucumber produced by UNDP supported greenhouse. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat / 2017

UNDP’s Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), is a five-year project, made possible by the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund. Over the next three years, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP will implement more than 100 livelihoods projects, including building more greenhouses and training farmers on food processing and food storage, as well as protecting 800 hectares of land from flooding, irrigate 4,000 hectares of agricultural land and repairing 30 canals.

 

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