A honey beekeeping project supported by the UN is giving new hope to poor returnee families in Afghanistan’s central highlands provinces of Bamyan and Daikundi.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently completed four months training on traditional and modern beekeeping and sustainable honey production for 60 women returnees.
The training aimed to address livelihood problems of the returnees and support their reintegration and help generate income.
“This income generation project will benefit 60 women returnees living in the high return areas of Bamyan and Daikundi provinces; most of the beneficiaries are families headed by women,” said Jawad Wafa, an official from the UNHCR office in Bamyan.
The honey beekeeping project was chosen by women returnees during a needs assessment among other options of animal husbandry and English language classes.
“Each participant received the necessary toolkits required to continue quality honey production on their own,” Mr. Wafa added.
One of the participants was Fatima, 45, who has nine children, and lost her husband eight years ago.
Since her return from Pakistan – like many other families living in the Shashpul returnee settlement – Fatima has also been weaving carpets for a living and for the school expenses of her children.
After school hours her children also help her weave carpets as that is the only source of income for the family.
Fatima says most of the time however she works alone as carpet weaving is hard work for the children, but she needs the extra hands to earn as much as possible for the family of nine.
Fatima and her fellow women are hopeful now, with the new UNHCR project she thinks her difficult days are over.
“Beekeeping is my only hope to get rid of the hard life, it’s very easy and clean, I believe we will earn enough to run our families with this business,” Fatima said.
According to Fatima, she has produced three kilos of honey from one beehive, and she can look after more than 10 hives at a time meaning she can produce more than 30 kilos of honey every two months.
“It’s better than what I earn from carpet weaving,” she added.