Skip to Main Navigation
FEATURE STORY January 17, 2021

Leaking Pot Practice Helps Boost Financial Literacy in Afghanistan


Members of a rural community in Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province attending a Leaking Pot exercise conducted by the Afghanistan Citizen's Charter program. 

World Bank

Story Highlights:

  • Community-driven “Leaking Pot” exercises are helping impoverished Afghan households plan their spending better by identifying excess expenditures usually spent on traditional practices, such as weddings and funerals.
  • The success of the exercise has led many communities to reduce bride prices and other ceremonial expenses, which previously left households in debt.
  • The “Leaking Pot” exercise is part of a series of participatory, community-driven exercises carried out under the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project to help community members understand the economic and social relations and underlying causes of poverty within their communities.

Kabul, Afghanistan- Images of leaking water pots have sprung up in communities throughout Afghanistan. They are part of an exercise under the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project (CCAP) teaching urban and rural communities about financial planning and the benefits of increasing income while lowering expenses on traditional practices.

Whereas traditional structures placed the budgetary and decision-making power in the hands of a community’s male elders, CCAP requires that and Well-Being Analysis.

As Afghanistan’s protracted conflict has resulted in weakened government institutions, particularly at the subnational level, grassroot efforts to strengthen community structures through multifaceted community development plans is a reliable strategy to promote targeted rural and urban development.

To prepare their plans, each of the current 13,005 (12,155 rural and 850 urban) Community Development Councils (CDCs) take part in participatory, community-driven exercises that are meant to provide a nuanced understanding of each community’s economic and social relations with a focus on seasonal hunger, indebtedness, poor wages, lack of access to health services and education, among others.

"These incremental changes in CCAP communities have enabled residents to improve their economic condition and reduce future indebtedness, allowing for greater investment in household well-being."


The Afghanistan Citizen's Charter Program (CCAP) supported by the World Bank and ARTF uses the leaking pot exercise as tool to help rural communities reduce poverty and improve their living standards. 

World Bank

Households reduce “leaking” expenses

Households that have been identified as “poor” and “very poor” through a Well-Being Analysis participate in the Leaking Pot exercise. This visual balance sheet through the image of a pot (representing a livelihood pot) allows households to understand why the pot is always empty because of “leaking” expenses.

The financial inputs and leaks are then analyzed to define their main sources of income as well as expenditures related to key life events (e.g., weddings, funerals). The analysis requires participants to outline the expenditures that create particular hardships for the future and consider how to stop the leaks so that the pot will not be empty.  

In Afghan communities, weddings, funerals, and other traditions require a large percentage of the family’s income. One of the successful outcomes of the Leaking Pot exercise was reducing these expenses. This was one of the actions taken by households in Keenjabuy village in the Khulm district of Balkh province to curb excessive expenditures. 

As with most rural villages, poor households in Keenjabuy village struggle with finances.

Nonetheless, the exercise sparked a community debate and helped many, like day laborer Merabuddin who recently married, realize that far too much money was being spent on traditional ceremonies, like weddings. Merabuddin’s family spent 120,000 afghanis ($1,560) on his wedding.

The Leaking Pot exercise provides equal opportunities to men and women in rural areas of Afghanistan to discuss the negative impacts of costly traditions on their lives and agree on methods to reduce these costs. Photo credit: World Bank

Consequently, the Leaking Pot exercise enabled the community, through its CDC, to sign an agreement that includes reducing  the number of wedding guests, from 600 to 300 for each event.

Through these efforts, village elders representing communities throughout entire valleys have come together to collectively lower ceremonial expenses to support their community’s efforts to promote financial responsibility. For example, following the Leaking Pot exercise, the Miranshah village in Anaba district in Panshir province came together to develop a 26-article agreement to reduce expenditures for ceremonies, such as engagements, weddings, funerals, the new year, among others. CDC leaders and village elders also agreed to establish a literacy course for women and founded a grain bank to support the most vulnerable households in their community.

Better Allocation of Resources

Based on the results of the Leaking Pot and other participatory exercises, urban and rural communities allocate core infrastructure investments and grants, determine recipients of employment opportunities funded through maintenance and construction cash grants, participate in grain bank programs, and other basic services channeled through local CDCs.  

As a result, CCAP projects will benefit some 13.5 million people across Afghanistan. The “leaking pot” has become a new symbol  in the government’s efforts to combat poverty throughout Afghan cities and the countryside.

CCAP is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in rural areas, while the Independent Directorate of Local Governance is responsible for implementation in urban areas.

*All U.S. dollar equivalents are based on the exchange rate $1 = 77 afghanis (2019).