Windows of Happiness

October 11, 2019


Nafisa a 42-year-old woman, runs a greenhouse in Herat province. © UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat


– ‘Nafisa’ (name changed), a 42-year-old woman from Zinda Jan district in Herat, remembers the bad old days, when she could not feed herself, her husband, or their seven children.

“Our economic situation was very bad,” she recalls. “We lived in a ruined house, and our only source of income was from shelling pistachio nuts.”

Back then, Nafisa looked after her husband, Rahman, who was suffering from tuberculosis. She was advised to give fruit to her husband regularly.

“Being so poor, I used to give the fresh part of the watermelon to my husband, and my children and I would eat the rind,” she says.

Like many women in Afghanistan, Nafisa desperately needed to find a way out of poverty. Agriculture was the path she found. 

“I went to the Department of Agriculture in Herat, and asked for some greenhouse facilities. Eventually, they agreed.”

Nafisa and her family are beneficiaries of the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), which is implemented by UNDP and Ministry of Agriculture. The project provided her with a greenhouse, seeds for vegetables, as well as the necessary training to become a successful small-scale farmer.

“At the beginning, the work was very difficult, but we enjoyed it,” says Nafisa. “When the first harvest came, we felt as if the windows of happiness had been opened to us.”

To begin with, Nafisa explains, she did not make much money, but day by day, her income increased. Today, she earns about $30 per day. Her family live in a new house, built with the money she made from selling her produce. She can provide her family with food, clothing and other necessities. She is even able to save money for the future.

Rahman, her husband, has happily recovered from his illness, thanks to medicines she was able to buy. Today, he helps her with marketing their produce. 

“Together with four other women villagers, we produce cucumber, garlic, fenugreek and tomatoes,” Nafisa explains. “We harvest around 160 kilos of cucumbers every other day.” 

Nafisa is grateful to the CCAP project for the opportunity it has allowed her. Inspired by her example, other women in the district have started growing vegetables to market as well. With luck, the ‘windows of happiness’ will open for them too.

UNDP’s Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), is a five-year project, made possible by the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund. Over the next three years, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP will implement more than 100 livelihoods projects, including building more greenhouses and training farmers on food processing and food storage, as well as protecting 800 hectares of land from flooding, irrigate 4,000 hectares of agricultural land and repairing 30 canals.


A women farmer's daughter having a cucumber outside their greenhouse in Herat province. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat



Ghuncha Gul is a woman farmer fondly known as ‘honey’ by her villagers as she keeps bees to make honey. Photo: UNDP / S. Omer Sadaat