In 2006, the MFLF started “The Balkh Livestock and Rural Enterprise Development,” known as the A4 Sheep Bank
(A4SB), involving 500 households in 15 villages in Dehdadi and Nahr-e-shahe districts in Balkh Province, Afghanistan. The project was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) of the Afghan government, as well as the Provincial Government of Balkh Province. Further assistance came from the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), with financial support from the Government of Belgium and the Embassy of Denmark to Afghanistan. The A4SB project was designed to strengthen Afghanistan’s capacity to revive its economy through social entrepreneurship, by creating an enabling environment for rural enterprises. The A4SB aimed to achieve economic revival by increasing the highly valued karakul sheep population decimated from years of conflict and drought. The Project initiated a sheep bank to increase livestock ownership in rural Afghanistan, while improving livestock health and increasing sheep population through an outreach and proactive veterinary service offered by local youth trained as “para-vets” in Mobile Veterinary Units. This led to a significant reduction in livestock mortality and increase in the sheep population. The Project’s veterinary services provide more and improved raw materials to support the creation of value-added small and medium enterprises. Sheep owners repay the Sheep Bank each year with 10% of their newborn ewes in exchange for veterinary services. The ewes are then loaned to poor and vulnerable households, providing them with sustainable livelihoods.

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