Food security

Programme description

Title: Food security programme, linking relief to rehabilitation and development in Afghanistan
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and European Union
Country: Afghanistan
Lead executing agency: Overall term: 2012 to 2016 

Afghanistan. Fodder Storage. © GIZ


The National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment completed in 2011 and 2012 shows that Badakhshan is the province that has the most people affected by food insecurity. According to the Emergency Food Security and Livelihood Assessment carried out by the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2012, 67% of Badakhshan’s population count as food insecure, while 33% are borderline and only 0.1% is food secure.
In Kohistan, Raghistan and Yawan districts of Badakhshan, just over 30% of all children aged between six months and five years are classified as suffering from global acute malnutrition: nearly 20% suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and over 10% from severe acute malnutrition. WFP has classified more than 50% of the under-fives in Badakhshan as stunted, meaning that they are too short for their age and they are chronically and irreversibly malnourished.

In the opinion of relevant national institutions, especially a number of key ministries (ministries of agriculture, rural development, women’s affairs and education), and according to analyses at provincial, district and community levels by GIZ’s own ‘Sustainable rural livelihoods’ programme, most of the districts of Badakhshan face major constraints that represent underlying causes of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.


In two districts, livelihood systems have been strengthened for those most affected by food insecurity, thereby consolidating their options for achieving sustainable economic development.


In 2006, GIZ’s emergency response and recovery project (EMERG) interventions in north-eastern Afghanistan introduced a people-centred approach called ‘sustainable rural livelihoods’. The aim of EMERG is to ensure the delivery of public services during and immediately after crises and emergencies. It links relief, rehabilitation and development measures, bridging the gap between short and medium-term relief and rehabilitation, while facilitating the transition to structured development and the growing self-reliance of people and institutions at all levels.

The food security programme in Badakhshan applies the EMERG concepts in its activities. To enhance the resilience of the poor and food-insecure population, the programme works to improve and diversify agricultural production, in order to enhance the quantity and quality of food consumed by households. This should be achieved sustainability and in a community-based, participatory way.

The programme strengthens individual coping mechanisms, as well as the collective coping mechanisms of vulnerable groups, thereby improving the resilience of the rural communities and mitigating specific risks to food security. It is also working to build up the capacity of the community development councils (CDCs) to provide services for improved food security and reinforce the councils’ links to district and provincial authorities.

Specific activities undertaken by the programme include the following:

  • Watershed management, including training measures and construction of complex structures such as terraces, trenches and ponds, and the distribution and planting of trees.
  • Construction of community stores
  • Construction of greenhouses
  • Setting up farmer field schools for men, providing agricultural training and distributing seeds (oil seed varieties, vegetables, cereals and fertilisers)
  • Setting up home and kitchen gardens for women, with training and distribution of seeds (vegetables) and tools
  • Nutrition and hygiene training, with different packages targeting men and women

Results achieved so far

Twelve communities were selected, six each in Arghanjhka and Kohistan districts. Together these account for almost 900 households with nearly 6,300 people. Under the measures to increase agricultural yields, nine community demonstration plots have been established, amounting to nearly 50,000 sq m.

In the farmer field schools for men, some 80 training sessions have been held covering topics such as crop and legume production, and terracing and watershed management. More than 730 men (from 85% of the households) have taken part in this training. In total 3,000 fruit trees have been distributed equally among the 12 communities, while nearly 43,000 kg seed and 20,000 kg of fertiliser have been shared out between all the households.

Meanwhile, 40 training sessions have been delivered for women in the home and kitchen gardens, addressing various different topics. These include the general construction of kitchen gardens, tunnel construction, and planting reading and harvesting. Some 770 women have benefited from this training – 85% of the households. Nearly 20,000 kg of vegetable seeds (including seed potatoes) have been distributed between all the target households, along with more than 5,000 items such as tools, irrigation equipment and plastic tunnelling.

Village stores have been constructed for the communities, each with a volume of 265 cubic metres. Of this, 106 cubic metres can be used to store cereals, vegetable and/or other food crops

To improve the utilisation of food, more than 1,500 trainees (male and female) have received three-days training respectively in the subjects of hygiene and nutrition, including cooking classes. These trainees were also given one nutrition and one hygiene kit containing items for their whole household.

In a transfer services component to improve household incomes, cash-for-work schemes were used for the construction of the demonstration plots mentioned above. More than 750 people benefited from this activity, which amounted to over 12,000 working days. The community stores likewise involved a cash-for-work scheme, in which 105 people took part, amassing almost 2,900 working days.

Afghanistan. Training class on Nutrition & Hygiene for male beneficiaries. © GIZ