WEED project aimed at economic empowerment of women in four villages including Dehdai Kuhna, Shaikhabad, Qoltemor and Baba Qoshqar of Dehdadi District in Balkh province.A total of 40 women benefited from this project by working in 4 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) through processing dairy products including yoghurt, milk and cream. Although this project has started in October 2017, the donor has extended it until November 2019. CAFOD UK has funded WEED project. Under the extension phase, there will be two new SHGs in 2019 which will provide employment for 20 more women.

Women Empowerment Extended Project in Dehdadi District of Balkh Province

The initial phase of the CAFOD project enabled 40 poor women in four areas of the Dehdadi district in Balkh province to start processing dairy products properly through which they are now able to move towards self-sufficiency. After the initial phase of the project, through monitoring and evaluation, AWEC has learned that there are a couple of issues including the need for more training, creation of a cluster to manage delivery system for transferring products to urban markets and creation of two new SHGs that require attention in the second phase of the project.

The goal of this project is the increase and support the empowerment of targeted women in Balkh province through enterprise development.

After the completion of the pilot project, AWEC has learned that there are a number of challenges including the need for more in-depth training (literacy and numeracy), manual processing methods, and the absence of an appropriate transportation system that still exist in the SHGs in Dehdadi district of Balkh province. The literacy and numeracy training will enable SHG members to learn basic reading and writing as well as numeracy skills that can be used in their daily transactions which will help them to rely less on SHG leaders and become self-sufficient. Furthermore, the literacy and numeracy training will be conducted by three-part time trainers where each trainer will cover two SHGs based on the proximity of SH groups. Business training will be conducted by the Project SME& Development Officer as below:

• Technical Training: It is proposed to conduct need based technical training on dairy processing of dairy products for the SHG members through AWEC SME officer.
• business training including introduction to the business, planning, pricing, record keeping, Order management, quality assurance and branding.
• Management, basic accounting, literacy and numeracy training.
• Group Formation Training: This is a step by step training on how to form a group, select representative, share responsibilities and advocate for the SHGs in the relevant meetings with government and non-government authorities.
• Cluster Formation Training and Workshop: This part will focus on how to form a cluster and continuously cooperate with such cluster to increase profitability     and facilitate the ongoing operation.
• Exposure Visit: Visits to similar production plants available in the neighbouring districts along with a better observation of the production processing, packaging, labelling and manner of distribution will be provided.
• Skills Training: SHG members will learn about the animal care steps including proper feeding, health, herding and hygienic measures.

The results from the pilot project are outstanding where the lives of 40 poor women have changed positively and they are on their way to self-reliance in terms of generating income. Based on the Monitoring and Evaluation report from AWEC’s team, the initial phase was successful in establishing four SHGs in Shaikh Abad, Dehdadi Kuhna, Qeshaqaar and Qultemor villages of Dehdadi district in Balkh province. There are 10 women in each of the SHGs and are actively producing different types of dairy products including Yogurt, milk and milk cream. Sell levels are different in each village that is covered by SHGs, Dehdadi Kuhna and Shaikh Abad sell out their products daily while SHGs in Baba Qoshqar and Qoltemor sell most of their products but the remaining produce is converted to another type of yogurt (Chaka) that can be used later without the risk of going bad. However, more work needs to be done to address the challenges that still exist for SHGs. Therefore, AWEC proposes the extension of the project for another year or so to enhance the productivity of SHGs.

Two new SHGs also established in Pol-e-Nanwaie and Baba Kohna areas of Dehdadi district in Balkh province and now there are six SHGs groups in six different areas of Dehdadi district and recently, toolkits have been distributed for two new SHGs and SHGs are able to use existing processing machines including mixer, temperature tester, water level tester, cap sealing and labelling, which the photos share as bellow.