450 women in the Daikundi province of central Afghanistan have been taking classes in sewing, knitting, crocheting, felting, beading and embroidery for the past nine months. The project was run by the Islamic and Social Justice Association of the Daikundi Women’s Council, and supported with monthly food rations by WFP.
The newly-trained artisans had the opportunity to showcase their skills at a craft fair in the provincial capital, Nili. The exhibition not only demonstrated the impact of the Food-for-Training project, but also gave participants the chance to sell the fruits of their labour. Over two-and-a-half days, some 450 people visited the exhibition.
The skills are of practical use to the participants and offer an income-generating opportunity. "I no longer need to pay a tailor to sew my children's clothes, because now I am able to make them myself,” says Zahra, a 42-year-old mother of seven who took part in one of the classes. “Also, I can crochet warm clothes for them,” she adds – no small consideration in the Naw Joy village near Nili, at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres.
Items made in the classes included accessories such as hats, gloves, bags and scarves, as well as decorative items for the home. There were also crafts specific to the Central Highlands of Afghanistan, such as making traditional clothes for men and women, and the production of felt and drugget materials.
“WFP food gives these poor women an incentive to learn new skills, which give them the possibility to create some sort of income for themselves. It also gives them the feeling of independence," said Qurban Ali Uruzgani, Governor of Daikundi (centre) during the opening of the exhibition.
Food-for-Training is one of WFP’s activities to provide hungry people with food assistance while giving them the opportunity to find ways of become self-sufficient. Food-for-Training projects in Afghanistan are usually designed specifically for women, who have few possibilities of earning a living beyond menial domestic work or traditional handicrafts.
Among the visitors to the exhibition was Ozra Jafari (centre), the mayor of Daikundi and Afghanistan’s first female mayor. "By helping women produce these handicrafts, we are also helping to highlight Afghanistan’s cultural traditions," she commented.
WFP supports Food-for-Training projects all over Afghanistan, most of the focused on women. These include handicraft skills like the ones displayed in this exhibition, but also basic literacy courses, and training in income-generating agricultural activities such as beekeeping and gardening.
15 October 2013 World Food Day 2013 (For The Media)