Through cash and awareness we help people in Afghanistan tackle hunger and malnutrition

Published: Apr 3, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
Through cash and awareness we help people in Afghanistan tackle hunger and malnutrition
© Foto: Sohrab Rostayee

We are driving through the rugged rolling hills to reach Sra Kala, a village in the Saydabad District of Wardak Province, central Afghanistan. During the winter, snow closes the roads. This past winter has been particularly harsh and challenging for the residents, bringing a shortage of food and heating materials. Reports reveal that in this district, most people live in deep poverty—many are barely able to afford food.

We met Eid Mohammad—51 years old. He has lived with his family in Sra Kala for over four decades. He has four daughters and two sons and is the sole breadwinner in his family of nine. "Droughts damaged our garden and agricultural products, and we lost our only source of income. Before [PIN support], we did not have access to enough food, and I did not have money to buy food for my family. We ate dry-flat bread with tea and potato twice a day," says Mohammad.

My wife and son suffered from malnutrition

Mohammad was obliged to find food for his family; therefore, he borrowed money from his relatives and shops nearby to feed his children, but he could not repay the money as he had no stable job. Meanwhile, he also worked as a wage earner. “I worked in others’ agriculture lands as a labourer and sharecropper to support my family,” he says. Poverty also impacted Mohammad’s family. “My wife and 14-month old son suffered from malnutrition because we did not have access to enough food,” he adds.

Mohammad was recently selected for our Cash-For-Food program funded by the European Union"I already received cash assistance twice, each time 6200 Afghani ($72). I bought milk powder, beans, flour, rice, oil, sugar, and tea for my family. We have access to food, and this assistance was so useful for us because I did not have a job and food for my family," says Mohammad.

Awareness sessions on hygiene and nutrition

Meanwhile, Mohammad’s family also received home counselling and awareness sessions on hygiene and nutrition. In addition, his 14-month-old son and his wife were identified as undernourished by our nutrition team and referred to the nearest clinic for further support and food supplements. "PIN's female staff came to our home and delivered awareness on hygiene, health and nutrition to my family about washing our hands regularly with soap before cooking, after work and before eating. They also advised us to eat beans, peas, vegetables, meat, fruit, milk, yogurt and protein-rich food to avoid malnutrition. We also received MUAC* for my wife and son," says Mohammad. (*The "middle upper arm circumference "(MUAC) measurement is a long plastic strip used to quickly measure malnutrition, especially in children under the age of five.)

After receiving awareness, Mohammad's family is washing their hands regularly, and they wear masks while going to the city.

"We learned how to maintain personal and environmental hygiene. We wash our hands before eating and after work and burn waste to keep our environment clean. We also learned to eat protein-rich food to avoid malnutrition in the future and wear masks in crowded places," says Mohammad.

Now, Mohammad's wife and son go to the clinic every 15 days and receive support and RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food). "My son and wife's health is improving day by day, and they feel better than before," says Mohammad.

28.3 million people in Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance

According to UNOCHA Afghanistan, about 28.3 million Afghan people will need urgent humanitarian assistance for their survival in 2023; of these, 17 million people are facing acute hunger, including 6 million in emergency levels of food insecurity.

People in Need provides Food Security, Nutrition and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) support under the EU-funded multi-sectoral programme implemented in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. PIN supports the most vulnerable people and deprived communities to meet their immediate life-saving needs and build their resilience.

Autor: Sohrab Rostayee, PIN Afghanistan Communication Officer

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