Women’s Empowerment Can Contribute Community Well-Being

Aga Khan Foundation, Afghanistan (AKF-A), initiated its development interventions in Dahan-e- Gohdar village in 2010 including community development, agriculture and food security, dairy processing, vaccination, treatment and health improvement of animals etc.  Ms. Fereba is a Basic Veterinary Worker (BVW) from Dahan –e- Gohdar village, Panjab-Bamyan. Below is her story, in her own words:

“By necessity, and because of problems that we had in our village, we needed to have a women BVW to serve women involved in livestock businesses. But since the community did not accept women working as BVWs, it was difficult for women to volunteer themselves for this job. Finally, I decided to work as BVW, with full support of my family and particularly my father. I started my work, and I participated in many training sessions organized by AKF-A in Bamyan center. I learned about animal treatment, vaccination and deworming theoretically and practically.

In 2019, the Agriculture and Food Security program continued supporting BVWs, enabling local service providers to extend to the most marginalized communities where livestock services rarely reach, helping to diversify sources of income for community members. Therefore, they supported BVWs in providing vaccinations, medicine, and technical advice. This learning not only increased my knowledge and that of the rest of villagers’ knowledge about the proper management of livestock, but also contributed to maximizing the community’s economic returns.

The most significant change is that people are encouraged to increase their engagement in livestock husbandry due to the reduction in diseases and animal fatalities in Dahan-e- Gohdar and nearby villages. The ratio of fatalities was previously high, especially among sheep and goats, due to the outbreak of diseases and the contagious diseases from animals coming from other sites during seasonal migration. People would previously go to Panjab Center for even basic animal treatment, and the owners had to bear additional cost of transport and treatment. Every year, about 50-60 animals would die from different diseases, including brucellosis and anthrax. With the decline in diseases and fatalities, farmers have become more motivated and encouraged to have more animals and improve their management practices. As the result of the program, some members of Dahan-e- Gohdar CDC have increased their holdings of domestic animals, which automatically increased their income.

The other most important impact has been the creation a source of income for myself, as the economic opportunities in rural communities are limited. As a BVW, I have treated 282 animals, dewormed 465, and vaccinated 1761. In 9 months in 2019, I earned 32,277 AFN. In addition, I am also helping communities by increasing their awareness, which had resulted in improved livestock management practices, enabling communities to diagnose basic animal diseases at home and treat them within their own community without travelling to Panjab Center.”

This story is significant because it shows the program has created employment for women as BVWs and as animal owners in a marginalized area. Fereba’s success demonstrates that with basic support, communities can become accountable for their own well-being. She has become competent and professional in preparing medicine and performing vaccinations, and her service fee, while manageable for her customers, ensures the sustainability of her work. In addition to the economic factor, AKF-A observed changes in community perception of improved methods of animal treatment; now, they trust and believe in vaccinations and the quality of treatment services by local service providers, including female BVWs.