Press Release

UNHCR, FAO, and UN Women launch a joint initiative to support women-led organizations in Faizabad, Badakhshan Province – Afghanistan.

12 October 2022

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) have launched a joint initiative to enhance women’s overall quality of life and resilience in Faizabad - Badakhshan Province, by strengthening women-led organizations to enhance women’s self-reliance.   

Badakhshan Province is regularly categorized as facing acute food insecurity under the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 4, with 96 per cent of the population residing in rural areas where residents lack sufficient income-generation opportunities. There has been limited investments in women-focused livelihoods and overall development since 2001. 

Speaking during the inauguration of the event, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan - Mr. Ramiz Alakbarov - said the country’s rural areas must be given priority attention with the focus on agricultural-food systems to prevent cycles of hunger.  “We must help drive a grass-roots economic recovery which is anchored in the creation of value chains and developing linkages between farmers and food producers and local markets. Empowering women to be at the center of this economic recovery strategy will help to promote equality and improve social and health outcomes.”

The multi-pronged programmatic approach being undertaken under the FAO/UNHCR/UN Women initiative focuses on strengthening local women-led non-government organizations and networks that support women in general and women-headed households in particular with livelihoods and quality of life enhancement related multi-sectoral assistance, mobilizing and organizing women in producer groups and linking them to local markets and microfinance options. 

Specifically, the intervention aims to support women-led organizations through improved access to basic services such as health, protection, food security and nutrition while paving the way for self-reliance and resilience through creation of livelihood opportunities.

“The full return of women to work is key to transforming Afghanistan’s economy and lifting the country out of poverty and crisis,” said Ms. Alison Davidian, Representative of UN Women in Afghanistan. “Initiatives like the Women’s Access, Dignity and Advancement (WADA) platform that assist women-led businesses and provide employment opportunities for women across sectors support moving Afghanistan strongly in this direction.”

“UNHCR is pleased for this partnership which aims to strengthen women’s access to critical services while also giving them the opportunity towards having a sustainable livelihood,” said UNHCR Representative in Afghanistan, Mr. Leonard Zulu. “WADA works towards creating long-term durable solutions, a key aspect of UNHCR’s programming.”

UNHCR, FAO, UN Women and partners are engaged in area-based programming and a whole-of-community response in all the 34 Provinces across Afghanistan. Faizabad in Badakhshan is UNHCR’s Priority Areas of Return and Reintegration (PARRs) where former refugees and internally displaced persons are going home, and one of the provinces where FAO is currently implementing targeted emergency and resilience initiatives.

“FAO's emergency and resilience assistance covers the immediate and time-critical needs to protect and restore agricultural livelihoods. This increases the resilience of affected populations to withstand current and future shocks. WADA is one way of directly enhancing women's food and nutrition security,” said FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Mr. Richard Trenchard.

UNHCR and FAO are working together in Afghanistan as part of the One UN initiative and within the frameworks of the Support Platform for Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and the UN Transitional Engagement Framework, to address the needs of refugee returnees, displaced people, and host communities while also engaging in the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

The Women’s Access Dignity and Advancement project is set to run for four years, with the initial phase to be implemented in the first 24 months. Both UNHCR and FAO have contributed USD $1 million each to kick-start the project, while looking to fundraise the USD $18 million balance needed for the scale-up.

WADA is also designed as a multi-sectoral, multi-agency and multi-phased initiative with programming opportunities for more UN agencies and other development partners to be part of the initiative as it progresses. Ends



Since 2002, FAO’s fully-fledged representation in Afghanistan has been operating in country to rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure, build new dairy and wheat seed industries, improve livestock health, help smallholders diversify their crops and add higher-value products, stem deforestation and help the country mitigate and adapt to climate change, among others.

UN Women

UN Women is on the ground in Afghanistan, supporting Afghan women and girls every day. Our in-country strategy pivots around investing in women—from scaling up lifesaving, support services to supporting women humanitarian workers in the delivery of aid and providing seed capital to women-led businesses. Central to our work remains the goal of rebuilding the Afghan women’s movement.


The UN Refugee Agency has been in Afghanistan for over four decades providing emergency assistance and support to the displaced and returning Afghans.


Media contacts: 

Lydia Limbe, FAO

Tel. +93 79 487 4975


Peter Kessler, UNHCR

Tel. +93 70 2465 614


Olguta Anghel, UN Women

Tel. +93 79 859 8429

UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Goals we are supporting through this initiative