Three decades of conflict in Afghanistan have produced voluntary and involuntary population movements by Afghans, as populations have relied on mobility to manage chronic needs and protection concerns in consequence of conflict, insecurity and socio-economic disruptions. Many have been internally displaced or forced to leave the country in search of safety or better economic opportunities, sometimes in dangerous or exploitative conditions.
Since 2002, over 6 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan, mainly from Iran and Pakistan, but also from the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. When Afghan refugees and migrants do repatriate, they return to a country that remains plagued by insecurity, poverty, and lack of livelihood opportunities. Many also return to Afghanistan with weak ties to their former homes, without resources and with limited support structures for re-integrating into economic, social, and political systems. The employment situation in Afghanistan is challenging, especially so for vulnerable population groups. Population pressure on overstretched absorption capacity and limited resources have a potentially destabilizing effect.
Support Afghanistan Livelihoods and Mobility (SALAM) is a joint project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD). SALAM aims to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) in developing comprehensive, coherent and integrated national and sub-national policy and institutional approaches for enhancing livelihoods in a time of crisis and protracted conflict.
SALAM brings together the Government and three UN Agencies, along with the private sector and other partners, to seek durable solutions for Afghans in line with the Government’s vision and strategies for employment generation and labour migration. This technical cooperation initiative includes a special focus on the needs of IDPs and returnees, and is defined by the close participation of national and international private sector actors across project design and implementation.
The main intervention of SALAM in Nangarhar Province is to create sustainable employment. Customized support activities are also being provided to address the specialized needs of vulnerable groups, including IDPs, migrant returnees, young people, and women. SALAM also targets safer and more productive international labour migration for those who choose to leave Afghanistan, through initiatives that help identify regular and regulated opportunities for international migration.
The SALAM programme is expected to deliver the following outputs:
- Output 1: Formalized institutional structures in support of regular labour migration for Afghan women and men are established
- Output 2: National and international employment opportunities for women and men IDPs, returnees and host communities in Nangarhar province increased
SALAM activities targeting the project’s two outputs are tailored to respond to the specific migration and employment challenges in Nangarhar. In total, there are 12 activities contributing to two outputs. Activities and resources have been refocused and re-allocated to help respond to the unique challenges faced by IDPs, returnees and receiving communities in Nangarhar, which necessitates both short-term relief and activities to promote long-term self-sufficiency. Activities are tailored to meet the different needs of unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled Afghans. Activities are designed to support the burgeoning youth population (those 18-29 years old), along with targeted initiatives for enhanced livelihoods development for women.
SALAM activities in Nangarhar and Kabul have been divided into four groups called “Activity Results”. These are:
1. Enhanced Government Capability to Facilitate Safe and Regular Migration
2. Support to Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
3. Support to Private Sector development and the creation of new jobs
4. Market-driven Labour skill-sets of Afghans Strengthened, especially for IDPs, Returnees, Young People, and Women
- Competency based, gender sensitive job placement and training programmes for IDPs, returnees, unskilled and semi-skilled youth, and potential migrants (women and men) for identified priority trades
- Skills training programme for entrepreneurs
- Value chain interventions as well as measures for stimulating enterprise innovation and creation of SMEs/startups
- Local and international events (job fairs, business fora and exhibitions) to promote job placement, business and entrepreneurship
- Provision of support to the establishment of gender sensitive, sector specific minimum standards for Bilateral Labour Agreements with countries of destination