Afghanistan: Making Food Choices Possible
Published on 14 January 2014

Farzana receives WFP Food Voucher in western Herat City.

Photo: WFP/Wahidullah Amani

Designed as a safety net, WFP’s voucher programme helps vulnerable families in urban areas buy the food they need, giving them the choice and control over the type and quantity of food to buy.  At the same time, the voucher programme also stimulates local markets, as new customers, previously unable to afford regular food purchases, are now able to flock to the local shops.

Meet two such new customers, Farzana and Shakila from Herat City, who are using the WFP Food Voucher to make their lives better.

HERAT CITY – Twenty-seven year old Farzana lives in western Herat city with her husband and six children. Her husband is a daily wage laborer, earning money by walking around the streets of Herat, offering to sharpen knives and scissors. On most days, he makes less than a dollar, enough only to cover a portion of the monthly rent of their mud house.  In order to help her husband and support her family, Farzana sometimes goes to other people’s homes to do the laundry and to clean.

Meanwhile, Shakila, 35, works as a cleaner in a wedding hall and earns 2,000 Afghani (approximately less than US$40) per month. She is the sole breadwinner of her family of five children since her mentally-ill husband is unable to work.  Due to their difficult family situation, she had to marry off two of her daughters at the ages of 13 and 11.

Farzana and Shakila are among those that WFP has identified to qualify for the WFP Food Voucher programme.  The food voucher will help them buy the food of their choice for six months.

“I really need this assistance,” says Farzana. “Today I am very happy to receive this food voucher and be able to buy the food we need”.

The WFP Food Voucher programme covers 1,600 vulnerable families in Herat, including female-headed households, disabled and elderly people; and 1,200 families in Qala-i-Naw, the provincial capital of neighboring Badghis province.  Each family will receive a food voucher worth US$35 per month for a period of six months. Beneficiaries of this programme are able to exchange their voucher with food items in markets which have been identified and contracted by WFP for this project.

“This food voucher will enable my family to have enough food for my family during the winter months, and in this way, I can reallocate the money I earn for buying wood to heat our house,” Shakila narrates.

”For us, the money we get to save, we’ll use it to pay for the rent of our house,” Farzana quips.  

WFP’s Cash & Voucher programme is being implemented in a number of Afghan cities, including Kabul, Herat, Samangan, Qala-i-naw, where food is available in the market.

Thanks to the recent contribution from the government of Poland to WFP’s Cash and Voucher activities in Afghanistan. This contribution will help WFP to cover more vulnerable families in urban areas.



WFP Offices
About the author

Wahidullah Amani

National Communications Officer

Wahidullah Amani, a former journalist, has been with WFP since 2012. He now works as the National Communications Officer for WFP Afghanistan based in Kabul.