Sustainable Solutions for the Community
The SHG not only provided Rahila with vital information, it also granted her a 2,000-afghani ($26)* loan to help cover her husband’s medical expenses. “For 14 consecutive days he had fever that had left him motionless, and we didn’t have any money to admit him to a hospital,” says Rahila. “So, I took the loan from the self-help group and bought him Paracetamol, cherries, lemons, oranges, and other fruits and made juices for him.”
After her husband’s recovery, they were faced with another dire problem. With businesses shut down due to COVID-19, Rahila’s husband, a construction worker, had no work and no way to earn a living to provide for his family. “I didn’t have any money to feed my children,” she recounts. “I had only 60 afghanis [77 cents] to buy just bread for breakfast.”
The SHG threw Rahila a further lifeline by helping her secure another loan and form a plan of action. “I borrowed 2,000 afghanis and bought a bicycle,” Rahila says. “[My husband] uses the bicycle to sell goods like dishwashing liquid and powder and snacks to other residents.” The plan proved a success as many people preferred not to leave their homes during these uncertain times and were happy to have a delivery service of these small goods. “I am thankful to the SHG that has helped me and my family. My husband now earns 300 afghanis [$3.90] a day,” which Rahila says is enough to cover their daily expenses and repay her loans in weekly installments.
Rahila says that she would have been in a difficult position without WEE-RDP’s aid. “If we didn’t have this program in our village, we would have had to either take loans from neighbors or sell whatever we had at home for my husband’s treatment.”
She is grateful that the WEE-RDP came to their village and taught them that saving can create a huge difference in their lives. “We didn’t know much about saving at the beginning, we were spending all the earnings without giving any further thoughts about our future,” she says.
Kaliwal reaffirms WEE-RDP’s positive impact on the women by the project. “We have been successful in creating a mentality among the women that saving 20 afghanis [26 cents] per week can [help] solve big problems in their lives in the future,” he says.
By encouraging women to participate in society and involving them in decision-making at the local level through SHGs, communities like Bagrami have been able to implement targeted, sustainable, and appropriate solutions to solve community issues.
WEE-RDP promotes women’s economic empowerment by encouraging and aiding financially sustainable and self-managed community institutions, which aim to improve household incomes, foster sustainable enterprises, and increase access to finance and markets. WEE-RDP will be implemented in 76 districts across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan by project’s end in June 2023.
WEE-RDP is funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), a multidonor trust fund managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors, and International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.
*U.S. dollar equivalents are based on the exchange rate $1 = 77 afghanis (December 2020)