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Challenges Persist in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Impact Stories

In the Kushkak village in Afghanistan, 42-year-old Guljan lived a simple life with her husband and their four children, including her daughter-in-law. In recent years, her husband grappled with debilitating leg pain, rendering him unable to work and placing the burden of financial support on Guljan and her sons. Despite facing economic hardships and managing household responsibilities, Guljan displayed unwavering determination to provide for her family.

On what seemed to be a typical day in October 2023, Guljan was away from home, seeking medical attention for her six-year-old daughter when she heard news about an earthquake striking her home district. Hurrying back to her village, she encountered a sight of complete devastation. The once familiar landscape was transformed into debris. 

Heartbreakingly, the earthquake had claimed the lives of her husband and 11-year-old son, both trapped inside the house during the disaster. 

Post-Earthquake Challenges 

After her husband’s passing, Guljan assumed the role of decision-maker for her family, taking on responsibilities that were once his. Now a female-headed household, she encountered significant challenges in obtaining assistance. Observing the disparity in opportunities, she noted that restrictions placed on women exacerbated their difficulties in participating in assessments compared to their male counterparts in the community. 

Guljan and her eldest son stand before the tent provided to them in the aftermath of losing their home to the earthquake.

However, after being identified by PWS&D’s local partner as a potential project participant, Guljan’s family received a winterized tent to help endure the harsh weather conditions. “In a timely intervention, [the partner] came to our aid, providing my family with a new tent, which we promptly set up,” she shares.

Still, Guljan has voiced a growing concern about her family’s lack of security and privacy under the tents. The communal living arrangement presented obstacles for the women in particular. Carrying out daily washings became a difficult task due to the lack of privacy caused by the cramped conditions of the tents, exposing their activities to onlookers. Likewise, the shared nature of the makeshift bathroom facilities intensified the discomfort.

As winter approached, Guljan’s anxiety only increased. The village where they were temporarily settled was in the middle of a treeless desert landscape, prone to fierce, relentless winds. Two intense dust storms after the earthquake reinforced the difficult weather conditions the family faces. Additionally, with a new grandchild on the way, Guljan is concerned about how the baby, and the rest of the family, will be able to find shelter and food to survive. 

Ongoing Food Security Concerns

An estimated 28.3 million Afghans (two-thirds of the population) need humanitarian assistance. The crisis is being driven by three consecutive years of drought-like conditions, crippling economic decline since the Taliban takeover in 2021, and decades of conflict and recurrent natural disasters. 

As a result, Afghanistan is among the countries facing the highest levels of food insecurity in the world. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 15.8 million people are project to be food insecure in 2024. 

Since the passing of Bill C-41, which provides exemptions for humanitarian focused aid spending in Afghanistan, PWS&D is implementing a $1 million food assistance project in Bamiyan province, assisting 4,550 of the most marginalized households. Families will receive monthly cash assistance over a three-month period, enabling them to buy essential food items.  

Your support is vital to ensure that emergency assistance and essential resources reach families like Guljan’s after devasting disasters and ongoing food insecurity. PWS&D hopes to expand our response in Afghanistan – your prayers and financial gifts will make a real difference in people’s lives.

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