FEATURE STORY July 3, 2018

Afghanistan: Livelihood Grants Transform The Lives of Destitute Families in Balkh Province

Image

The Targeting the Ultra Poor program aims at moving beneficiaries from safety nets programs to sustainable income-generating activities, linking them with microfinance programs. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Destitute families in four districts of Balkh Province are seeing a transformative change in their economic situation as a result of a program targeting ultra-poor families.
  • The Targeting the Ultra Poor program has given these families an opportunity to earn a regular income by providing them with livestock and a monthly stipend.
  • The program is part of the Afghanistan Access to Finance Project implemented through the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan. It is supported by the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

NAHR-E-SHAHI DISTRICT, Balkh Province – A cold wind twists through the lanes of Sultan Baba Alishir village, rattling the doors and windows of mud houses. Bibi Siamoi, 33, is humming while she sweeps her small yard. A cow and a calf occupy a corner of the yard, swishing their tails as they chew on cud.

, which aims to improve the economic conditions of destitute families through livelihood support. Since August 2016, she and many other ultra-poor families in Baba Alishir village in Nahr-e-Shahi district have been the beneficiaries of livelihood grants—receiving a cow and calf — and income support under the program. “,” says Siamoi.

As a result of the grants, livelihoods in the district have improved. Siamoi is now able to feed her three children, but the wrinkles on her face bear testimony to the harsh times she has survived. “There was no work and everything was just bad,” she says. “Thanks to the program, which has given me a cow, my situation has changed completely. The cow is the best blessing in my life, I think I am the luckiest woman in the world now.” 

Zahra, 50, another beneficiary from the same village, has also seen a transformation in her life. “,” she says. “Our economic situation has improved.”

In addition to giving livelihood and income support, TUP also provides information on hygiene and animal husbandry. “,” says Zahra.


"I had nothing before, but now we use the cow’s products at home and sell the extra to neighbors and nearby shops. Our economic situation has improved."
Image
Zahra
TUP beneficiary, Sultan Baba Alishir village, Balkh province

Image

The Afghanistan Access to Finance Project aims to build institutional capacity to improve access to credit of micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Sustain Income-generation Activities

Ultra-poor households in Balkh province face extensive constraints, including low levels of consumption (below national and international standards), limited human capital (adult female literacy stands at four percent versus 24 percent in Afghanistan and 81 percent worldwide), and poor access to basic services and opportunities (none of the villages has a commercial bank and only five percent of villages have a microfinance institution).

Living in extreme poverty has both mental and physical implications: ultra-poor households have some of the lowest life satisfaction levels in the world, while children experience nearly three times the global average for diarrhea. .

, linking them with microfinance programs. Building on the lessons learned from pilot projects and international experience, TUP beneficiaries will be provided a three-year package of inputs, which includes the transfer of productive assets (such as livestock) as well as training, a subsistence support (monthly stipend, as short-term income support), and basic healthcare through community-based health workers.

The TUP program is part of the Afghanistan Access to Finance Project implemented through the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA). The Afghanistan Access to Finance Project is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and aims to build institutional capacity to improve access to credit of micro, small, and medium enterprises.


Image
The Targeting the Ultra Poor program has given many rural households, like Bibi Siamoi in Balkh Province, an opportunity to a sustainable earning by providing them with livestock and a monthly stipend. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
 

Access to Finance, Education, and Healthcare

. In the first year, the program identified the ultra-poor families in the communities and, in the second year, it distributed cows and sheep to the identified beneficiaries. .

Each family has been given an average of 1,000 afghanis (about $15) income support per month in addition to the livelihood support. The program is implemented by Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA), a nongovernmental organization contracted by MISFA.

The program’s goal to transform lives is apparent.. Fariba, 45, a TUP beneficiary from Chil Gazi village in Dihdadi district, is visibly grateful for this. “One of my children was blind and I did not know what to do about her,” she says. “The program introduced me to a hospital to treat my child’s eyes. Now my child can see.” She lives with her seven children and did not have a source of income earlier.

As a part of the program, Fariba’s child was identified to be in urgent need of treatment. “As an exceptional case in our project in Balkh province, we worked with Fariba and the health facility till they treated her child’s eye,” says Hijratullah Omari, manager of the TUP program in Balkh. The child would have lost her eyesight permanently if she had not been treated. “I am very thankful to the program,” says Fariba, “I hope to earn more money from the cow’s products to treat her other eye too.”

The program is working to ensure that beneficiary families will sustain these positive changes in their lives. In addition to the stream of income from livestock, (savings and micro-loan) to ensure sustainability of their economic activity. “According to our estimate, the lives of more than 65 percent of our beneficiaries have changed completely and is getting better day by day,” says Hijratullah Omari. “” 



Api
Api