“We have Slept Empty stomachs for Several Nights”

As the novel Coronavirus started to infect people rapidly, the Government of Afghanistan has taken protective measures by imposing a quarantine as the rest of the world to slow down the spread of this lethal disease that has taken tens of thousands of lives across the world. The lockdown indeed has brought many businesses and livelihoods activities to almost a complete deadlock. The Government of Afghanistan has, therefore, designed the Dastarkhwan-e-Meli Prpgram in order to support its population at this critical situation in both rural and urban communities throughout the country. As such, a total of 21 households in Mandozai village in Mehtarlam the center of Laghman province have received relief packages through Dastarkhwan-e-Meli under the Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/CCNPP).

While expressing his pleasure over the receipt of the relief package, Abdul Hadi 28, recounted:

            “I have to look after my own eight children as well as a widow and five orphans left behind my martyred brother. We cannot find any job due to Coronavirus pandemic these days. We have slept empty stomachs for several nights. Both my household and my widowed sister-in-law received the relief packages provided by the government. The distribution of relief packages in such a critical time has saved our lives.”

When asked if he was satisfied with the relief package he received through Dastarkhwan-e-Meli Program, Bakhtiar 25, another villager replied:

            “Most of the people in our community are already poor. Including me, the majority of men in our community support their families as daily wage-earners. We were deeply infected with Coronavirus soon after our community was suffered from this epidemic disease. We are now encountering economic difficulties as we have lost our jobs. Thanks to Dastarkhwan-e-Meli Program – it has satisfied our hunger by providing us with some essential food items such as rice, flour, oil, etc. for some time.”    

As of January 16, 2021, more than 288 thousand households in 2,265 communities of 114 districts in 34 provinces of Afghanistan have received relief packages totaling more than 1.15 billion Afghanis.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in negative economic impacts on the lives of people, especially the poor & daily wage-earners. The Government of Afghanistan has initiated a relief response program – called Dastarkhwan-e Meli – that would be implemented in cities & villages. Dastakhwan-e Meli program is planned to be implemented in two phases.

The first phase of Dastarkhwan-e-Meli Program worth USD 86 million has already been launched in nearly 13 thousand communities related to 123 districts across all 34 provinces of the country under the coverage of Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/CCNPP). As planned and set out, 1.67 million households in the rural areas will receive relief packages, valued at AFN 4,000 per household.