SWAT: United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) is providing grants and training to the conflict-affected communities of Swat and Buner to restore their livelihoods. For this purpose, UNDP’s implementing partner for the programme, Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), is training over 200 low-income people of the area in a three-day workshop on basic enterprise development.
A participant at the training, Mohammad Salim Khan, a disabled man from Janwand area of Tehsil Kabal said, “After my training is complete and I receive a grant, I can start my business again and lead a respectable life.” He was enlisted in the programme after members of SRSP visited his village to look for potential candidates.
Salim used to run a cosmetics shop in his village before he was displaced. He found his shop ransacked after he returned and has since been selling cosmetics on a trolley in the streets to earn a living. “I am unable to meet the needs of my family with this business,” he said.
Iqbal Zada, a resident of Gul Jaba area, used to run a barber shop before the crisis. “My business was going well,” said Zada. He could easily support his family of eight members. But then the Taliban came and prohibited shaving, which led to his shop becoming deserted. He was eventually forced to close his shop. “After that, it became difficult to make ends meet and I started working as a labourer. Those three years were the hardest.” Zada is hopeful that UNDP’s programme will provide him a grant and training to enable help him to start his shop once again.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a consultant of SRSP, Naheed Akhtar, said the objective of the programme is to provide people with income-generating opportunities and to involve the youth in constructive activities. The programme also aims to minimise the dependency syndrome from the society, which has been developed among people after their businesses were destroyed. “By providing skills training and grants for business, we want to restore their livelihood capacities.” The programme will also help them develop linkages while exposure visits will be arranged to areas like Balakot, where people’s livelihoods have been restored by such programmes, he added
Another participant of the training, Fazal Subhan, a resident of Aligrama, was among the people who were displaced. When he returned home, his sewing and embroidery machines had been looted.
“I will purchase machines and equipment and will restart my sewing business again,” Subhan said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.