I can grow vegetables to feed my family and from the surplus I can even make a small profit, Rooh from Afghanistan praises kitchen gardeningPublished: Jun 16, 2016 Reading time: 3 minutes
Rooh lives in Sajadia in the suburb of Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan. He works as a wage worker. Life for his family, which include his wife, seven children and his widowed mother, who were all displaced from Ghazni province, is far from easy. In Sajadia there are dirt roads and few sources of drinking water, as well as a lack of job opportunities.
Rooh has been selected as beneficiary of a project tackling urban poverty in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan, undertaken by People in Need and funded by the European Union. One of the project activities is focused on kitchen gardening.
Rooh’s life changed a great deal since he started cultivating the small garden behind his house. "Before I joined the project I did not have enough information about agricultural activities and did not know even know what a greenhouse is,” describes Rooh. "Previously our daily diet did not include vegetables and if we had guests we had to buy vegetables in the market," he adds.
Rooh joined the activity after the People in Need team undertook a survey in the area and he was interviewed by the assessment team. "When the People in Need team described kitchen gardening to me, I was happy because for me it was an opportunity to fulfil my dream to have a green backyard and vegetables for my family all year around," he says.
The greenhouse made me quite famous in the community
Apart from training, Rooh received some basic tools, vegetables, seeds and a greenhouse. "Now I am more familiar with agricultural techniques and I can do it alone. I save the money I spent before on buying vegetables in the market and by selling my surplus produce I am able to make a little profit," Rooh explains how the EU-funded intervention helped him. Part of his vegetable harvest he gives to relatives and neighbours.
"The most interesting part for me is the greenhouse. Because of it I have enough vegetables like cucumbers for my family," he says about his new hobby. The rest of the community also profits from his success. "Some of my neighbours and relatives are also starting their own greenhouses and they come to me for help," Rooh describes the benefit for the whole community and adds that every visitor to his house wishes to have a backyard such as his. "Because of the greenhouse I became quite famous in the community which makes me proud of my work," Rooh concludes.
The EU funded project lasted for 28 months and in total supported over 1000 low income households, specifically focusing on women with particularly limited access to income generating activities. The project was initiated and implemented as a response to growing poverty in urban and peri-urban areas, which are expanding at high speed.
It was aimed at the most vulnerable households, selected in an initial assessment which revealed that food insecurity and unemployment due to lack of skills or illiteracy are the most prevalent problems. People in Need addressed these using an approach combining vocational education, tailor-made training, women’s saving and learning groups, and implementation of urban agriculture and low-cost innovative technologies, such as greenhouses, solar cooker or bio-sand filters. These increase access to clean water and diversify the diet of the most vulnerable urban inhabitants.
*Names of people have been changed in the article for security reasons