An 84-year-old Afghan man reflects on hand-to-mouth existence and on the importance of being food secure.
Sitting on the ground is an old man looking a bit out of place amongst the many young people standing in queues. On this fine day in Faryab province, slightly to the west of central northern Afghanistan, participants of WFP’s Food-for-Work (FFW) projects have gathered at a food distribution site to collect their rations, which include WFP’s usual package of basic food commodities: two-month’s worth of wheat, pulses, fortified vegetable oil, and iodized salt. More than 1,800 villagers worked for two months, from mid-March to mid-May, to rehabilitate water reservoirs, roads, and flood-damaged canals for their community. Hence, one cannot help but wonder –upon approaching the old man, and realizing that, along with his advanced age, he is also visually impaired—how he was able to participate in such active, labor-intensive activities.
The old man, Khuday Barin Ayshan, actually did not participate in the FFW activities but he is one of the recipients of WFP’s food. His son worked on the FFW project in the village of Taza Qurghan in the Qurghan district of Faryab. Unable to attend that day’s distribution, he sent his 84-year-old father to collect the food on his behalf. As the local Community Development Council (WFP’s implementing partner for this activity) distributes rations, Ayshan lines up to receive food for his family of ten people. He shares that they have all felt hunger as a result of the drought.
“Two of my young sons are daily wage workers but it’s very unstable. One day they are able to find the work and the next day there is nothing to do. To support my family I sometimes have to beg from the people in the village,” says Ayshan. He adds, “WFP’s food assistance is very vital for me and my family.”
FFW is one of WFP’s main activities for vulnerable communities that are in need of humanitarian assistance but are still able to work. The activity itself is meant to build or rehabilitate communal assets such as improving classrooms or planting nurseries where women can hone their agricultural skills. Participants are able-bodied Afghans who receive food as incentive for their participation in these communal projects.