Years of drought depleted livestock and impoverished many families in Herat Province, in Western Afghanistan near the Iranian border. Poppy smuggling is a common source of income for some, but many men have lost their lives in this dangerous and illegal enterprise. Due to these deaths, the Adraskan District has more widows than any other district in the province. Most of these widows are unable to earn enough to provide for themselves and their children, or even to purchase basic materials for making carpets, for which Herat is well-known.
USAID funded a project in the historically Islamic community of Mir Ali in Adraskan District to reinvigorate the traditional wool carpet weaving economy. Thirty-three widows worked with female staff members trained in association development and small business marketing, and formed a carpet making association. The project focused on widows as they were the most vulnerable group in the community and had the greatest need for assistance.
The association held several meetings, and voted to provide each member with a loom and other carpet making tools. The widows enthusiastically began the task of producing traditional wool carpets for the local market, and have already met initial success. In fact, during a recent carpet exhibition in Kabul, the association was able to sell many carpets at profitable prices. The second stage of the association’s activities is focused on improved marketing of the carpets. The association is now searching for better marketing opportunities in places such as the province’s capital, Herat.
Last updated: August 17, 2015