NewsPowering internally displaced Afghans through renewable energy and jobs

STFA story Employment of IDPs and Solarization

In Nangarhar, Afghanistan, a groundbreaking solar-powered initiative is bringing opportunities into internally displaced communities, including returnees, offering hope through employment to those forced from their homes.

Mariam, a 23-year-old participant in the UNDP’s solarization programme implemented as part of Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan (STFA)’s Joint Regional Programme, lives with her family of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nangarhar Province. Having displaced from Pakistan a few years ago, she now works at a local paper recycling factory that was rejuvenated through renewable energy-based initiatives.

Previously shut down due to financial difficulties, the factory was revitalized after the UNDP's ABADEI project, funded by the STFA, implemented solar power solutions. This support not only restarted operations but also provided crucial employment opportunities for the community, including Mariam and approximately 60 others, many of whom are returnees or displaced persons from Pakistan. Many of these employees are women, who now have stable incomes to support their families.

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In addition, the factory indirectly supports another 200 individuals who collect recyclable materials from urban and other areas. These roles are essential in a region where economic opportunities are limited.

When asked about the programme and its impact, Mariam responded with saying:

“I am extremely grateful for my job, which provides stable employment for many of us, including young people. This job is a lifeline, steering us away from potential involvement in drugs and crime. The income I earn supports not only myself but also my family’s daily needs.”

She also values the environmental benefits of the solar-powered factory, stating, "The use of clean energy significantly reduces our carbon footprint and helps combat climate change. It feels empowering to contribute positively to the environment."

The factory is a testament to how sustainable energy solutions can catalyze social and economic development. Through job creation and environmental protection, STFA's funding is driving progress and empowering displaced communities in Afghanistan.