Local Decision-making Improves Women’s Lives in Afghanistan
In the village of Jukna in Badghis Province, Gulsatan recalls how in earlier days women had to walk four kilometres daily simply to collect drinking water for their families. The 45-year-old widow, a mother of six, is relieved those days are now past. ”They collected water from uncovered reservoirs which were exposed to impurities. Women were constantly at risk of bacterial and parasitic infections, and their children risked diarrhoeal disease,” she says.
This is a common problem across this remote, mountainous province in western Afghanistan. Potable water is scarce, and often brackish or contaminated
- 388 District Development Assemblies (DDAs) have been established in 34 provinces. 6,120 men (69 percent) and 2,814 women (31 percent) have been re-elected as members of 325 DDAs.
- Approximately 4.9 million Afghans living in rural areas have access to improved transport infrastructure.
- Over six million Afghans are protected from floods and other natural disasters.
- Approximately 6 million labour days were created through various infrastructure projects.
- 138 micro hydro power projects provided electricity to more than 168,000 people in rural areas.
- 873 irrigation projects have been implemented in all 34 provinces benefiting over 3.2 million Afghans.
Gulsatan is a member of an initiative led by the National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP), a joint initiative of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) and UNDP, which has improved the lives of Jukna’s women. She is a member of the village Community Development Council, as well as the local District Development Assembly – local governance initiatives which seek to bring the voices of community members, including women, into local decision making.
In this role, Gulsatan and her fellow assembly members raised the issues which affect women’s lives, such as the time and effort required to collect water. Their collective voices were heard.
To help Afghanistan achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, NABDP has constructed 191 water supply projects across all six districts of Badghis province. Using Spanish funds, these projects have benefitted more than 328,000 people (over 161,000 of whom are women and girls).
In Jukna, the benefits were instant and tangible. As Gulsatan says: “Nowadays, I get potable drinking water from four nearby reservoirs and don’t have to take two hours of my time from caring for my kids and housework. My medical expenses have even fallen, allowing me to save more money.”
Since 2002, NABDP has implemented 612 water supply and sanitation projects benefiting more than 2.2 million people in 32 provinces across Afghanistan.