Afghanistan Resilient Livelihoods

Why are the after-dinner conversations the most important?

In Afghanistan’s Resilient Livelihoods Program, women are 7 times more likely to participate in decisions, and twice as likely to think decisions meet their needs. Find out why.

A man from Afghanistan’s Resilient Livelihoods project summed up the biggest change he saw in 1 sentence: “We consult our wives after dinner what to do tomorrow.” This is a big change, where at baseline only 8% of women felt they had a say in family decisions. By the end of the project, 48% of women were participating—and 86% felt that community decisions were taking women’s needs into account.

The Afghanistan Resilient Livliehoods project ran from 2015-2018, with $1.7 million from the Australian government. It reached 1,450 people directly, and 11,600 indirectly.

What did we accomplish?

  • Farmers produce more food: 92% of farmers saw their wheat production improve. On average, production went up 32%.
  • Income increased: 55% of families saw their income increase.
  • Kids are more likely to stay in school: When hard times hit, families are 36% less likely to take their kids out of school to work (from 13.6% to 8.8%). Instead, they are 3 times more likely to have adults take on wage labor to make up the difference.
  • Women participate in more decisions: Women are 7 times more likely to participate in family and community decisions than they were at the beginning of the project (from 8% to 48%). Women are even more mobile. In the words of one family, “It wasn’t normal to send the girls out of home but now they go out to participate in the training and [are] even encouraged to go to school”.
  • Governance is getting better: Project participants are more than twice as likely to feel that community decisions respond to their concerns. Now, 86% of people think that their local structures are paying attention to what women and poor people need (up from 41% at the beginning).
  • Families are more satisfied with services: The number of people who are satisfied with agricultural services more than doubled (from 44% to 95%). Those who think their community groups are accountable have gone from 76 to 92%).

How did we get there?

  • Create more functional groups: The project worked with Water Management Committees to improve irrigation, farmers groups to improve adoption, and VSLAs to support savings.
  • Use your data to improve activities: The project built dashboards in Excel because it was a tool everyone can access, and looked at the data every month to make management decisions. They also used the mid-term review to re-design the training package and offer more consistent support throughout the season instead of an intensive package at the beginning.
  • Work with service providers: The project worked with many national and local ministries (such as Labor, Economics, Rural Development, and Agriculture) to design training, leverage existing services, and build sustainability plans. This led to farmers being 3 times more likely to be satisfied with agriculture extension, and the government investing resources in irrigation.
  • Grow food close to home: The project supported kitchen gardens, and saw an increase in families processing the food from their own gardens for sale or storage from 7% to 96%.

Want to learn more?

Read the final evaluation.