Few countries have endured the extraordinary and persistent hardship faced by Afghanistan over recent decades. From ongoing drought, food insecurity, and poverty, to invasion, occupation, ethnic conflict and civil war, Taliban oppression and US military retaliation, and refugee displacement of staggering proportions. As a result, much of the country has been left utterly devastated and without hope. Since 1984, Shelter For Life has worked extensively to assist Afghan communities to rebuild their lives. Our work in the region has been diverse, including: implementing sustainable income generation and livelihood programs, restoring public infrastructure, providing access to financial services, disaster relief and humanitarian services, facilitating community development initiatives, disaster risk reduction programs, and strengthening agriculture and rural development.
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Restoring Resilliance in Rural Afghanistan 

The Problem: Around 39% of Afghans live below the poverty line, with huge differences in living standards between those living in cities and those in rural areas. Further, around 33% of Afghans are food insecure and 3.4 million severely food insecure. Consequently, there is urgent need to tackle the country’s nutritional, educational and environmental problems, and support vulnerable people to improve their livelihoods.

The Solution: In collaboration with World Food Program, our team has been able to address the needs of rural Afghanistan through a number of diverse projects that include: delivering emergency food assistance and school meals, constructing and rehabilitating key infrastructure (including sustainable irrigation systems), improving employment opportunities through vocational training, and disaster risk reduction.

The Impact: In 2017 alone, SFL directed the rehabilitation of 260 kilometers of neglected and damaged irrigation canals, while constructing an additional 34 kilometers of new canal waterways; rehabilitated 255 kilometers of road; planted 28,600 trees; distributed 5,460 metric tons of food and provided 1,500 individuals vocational training.

Funder: World Food Program (WFP)
Duration: 2013-Present


Soybeans in the Agriculture Rehabilitation of Afghanistan Initiative (SARAI)

The Problem: Agriculture is essential in Afghanistan, representing 50% of the country’s GDP and supporting 85% of its people. Securing water for agricultural and personal use remains a challenge, and due to ongoing conflict, much of Afghanistan’s agro-processing industry has deteriorated, draining physical assets and human know-how.

The Solution: The warm climate of Northern Afghanistan is ideal for growing soybeans, a previously underutilized commodity. To revitalize agricultural growth in Northern Afghanistan, our team supported local farmers to develop and improve soybean production practices and access markets. This involved establishing community-led agricultural and water management committees; improving irrigation systems and farm-to-market roadways through cash-for-work programs; provision of agriculture-related microcredit loans; farmer training in soybean practices; development of harvest collection procedures; and construction of soybean demonstration plots.

The Impact: 6 community committees established and mobilized; More than 50km of roadways constructed or rehabilitated; 100 communities with improved access to water; Irrigated land productivity increased by 135-200%; Over $450,000 injected into local markets through cash-for-work employment opportunities; 1468 micro and small scale loans provided; 13,024 farmers provided training; and 102 demonstration plots established.

Funder: USDA Food for Progress through WISHH and ASA
Duration: 2010-2013


Sustainable Livelihood and Income Generation Program

The Problem: Following the fall of the Taliban in Takhar province in Northern Afghanistan, a significant number of refugees and IDPs have returned to their communities. Despite the areas relative security, the economic rehabilitation of the area continues to be slow, and many returnees remain in poverty.

The Solution: In order to create a sustainable economy in the area, economic development at the grassroots level needs to occur. With support from PRM, our team was able to facilitate, develop and promote a comprehensive and sustainable income generation and livelihood program with maximum community participation. This involved implementing short-term income generation programs; linking communities to market activities; public infrastructure reconstruction, including roads, bridges, and water facilities; and facilitating community development projects.

The Impact: Over 40,000 individuals provided market access following the construction of 4 bridges and road rehabilitation; 120 families with increased access to water through construction of 37,000L reservoir; 400 families provided livelihood assistance through distribution of hens and goats, livestock training, and formation of women’s cooperative; 1,216 skilled and unskilled laborers provided employment; and an additional 32 women provided employment through community development of food processing center.

Funder: U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM)
Duration: 2008-2009