Backyard Poultry Farming Improves Food Security of Female-headed Family in Helmand – Babri Bibi’s Story

Traditionally, Afghan women have supported their male family members in farming activities. Yet, cultural norms restrict women from being on the forefront and treating agriculture as an avenue for income generation. However, UNODC’s experience working in the region shows that rolling out alternative development programmes that are also culturally sensitive can have significant impact on livelihood options for women, while slowly pushing traditional norms to become more inclusive.

Babri Bibi’s is one such story. A divorcee with 3 children, life has often been tough in her outlying village, in a small and conservative community in Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand province. As a single mother, she routinely faced social exclusion leading to lack of income sources to meet her daily needs.

Situations such as Babri Bibi’s are much too common in the rural southern regions of Afghanistan. Women’s participation in the public sphere and the workspace is not encouraged because of intermeshing factors such as conservative culture; lack of opportunities; and limited education. Furthermore, female-headed households have restricted access to income sources and often struggle to sustain their daily needs. The recent soaring food prices have made it even tougher to purchase basic necessities for women like Babri Bibi.

As a divorced woman, I am the only breadwinner of children. My economic situation has been worse for a long time. There was not even a piece of bread in my home,” shared Babri Bibi.

In May 2022, Babri Bibi was introduced to UNODC’s Alternative Development Programme being implemented by Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR). The programme helped her establish a small backyard poultry farm and provided her with 20 pullets and other necessary farm management tools, medicine, and training on managing a backyard poultry farm. Women in rural areas are traditionally engaged with poultry farming and livestock keeping, they have basic knowledge of poultry farming, feeding and breeding chicken. In the other hand, poultry farming does not require land and landless women have opportunity to have source of income, also the chicken coop is constructed inside the house boundary and women can run their business without any restrictions.

Photo 1: Babri Bibi poultry farm, Nad-e-Ali, Helmand, established by UNODC AD programme

“My chickens now lay 15 eggs per day, which makes it possible for my children to have nutritious food. I sell about 100 eggs per week at AFN 10 each and make an income of AFN 1,000. I use my income to buy food and other much needed items such as pens and notebooks for my children”

The AD Programme has given her a new lease on life by building her confidence in her own ability to give her children a better life.  

“Once all the hens start to lay eggs, I expect to increase my income. I plan to continue raising layer poultry and I want to grow the business in the future. I encourage other women in my village to begin their own poultry farm, too”

From a woman who faced social exclusion to becoming one who is celebrated as a successful female entrepreneur in her community, Babri Bibi’s story reflects the remarkable positive changes taking place as a result of the AD Programme in rural Afghanistan.,

Since January 2022, with assistance from the Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan (STFA), UNODC has supported more than 3,631 families in Helmand and Kandahar provinces that are vulnerable to engaging in opium poppy production and trade. These localized interventions play a pivot role in averting an even worse humanitarian crisis in the country and ensure that millions of Afghan families avoid starvation while disengaging from opium poppy cultivation.

With continued support, we can help even more vulnerable families, particularly female-headed households, to keep safe and healthy, and improve the overall quality of their lives.