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Balkh Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan


Islamic Republic of Afghanistan


Balkh Province



500 households in 15 villages in Dehdadi and Nahr-e-shahe, Balkh Province


Project Duration

2006 -2012



The government of Belgium, Embassy of Denmark to Afghanistan, Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Afghan Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), the Provincial Government of Balkh Province.


Why Afghanistan?

For decades, Afghanistan has been faced with poverty, drought, and unstable political situation. In 2006, the Government of Belgium invited the MFLF and the Afghan Government, under a trilateral cooperation platform to launch a Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development (SALD) project in Afghanistan. With the funding from Belgium, the MFLF conducted exhaustive consultations, research and meetings with various Afghan partners and stakeholders. Finally in November of 2006, the MFLF, MRRD and local Afghan partners launched the Balkh Livestock and Rural Enterprise Development Project, also known as the A4 Sheep Bank (A4SB).


What do we do in Afghanistan?

The Balkh Livestock and Rural Enterprise Development

The A4SB Project is designed to strengthen Afghanistan’s capacity for economic revival through social entrepreneurship, by creating an enabling environment for rural enterprise. The A4SB aims to achieve economic revival by restocking the karakul sheep population decimated from years of conflict and drought.

The Project is a transfer mechanism to increase the rate of livestock ownership in rural Afghanistan, while improving livestock health and increasing the sheep population through the application of an outreach and proactive subscription-based veterinary service offered by trained para-vets (Mobile Veterinary Units- MVUs). Reduction in livestock mortality and increase in sheep population as a result of the Project’s veterinary services will provide a larger and improved supply of raw materials for downstream value-added processes and the creation of related enterprises. In the A4SB model, subscribing sheep owners pay in-kind annually, providing ten percent of their newborn ewes in exchange for veterinary services. The A4SB project collects the in-kind payment and loans the ewes directly to poor and vulnerable households, allowing them to join other members in their community to capture sustainable livelihood opportunities. The project has directly benefited the grassroots community, reaching out to almost 500 households across 15 villages in Dehdadi and Nar-e-Shah districts in Balkh Province.


What do the people get?

The A4SB project has operated along two complementary strategies, on the one hand, the project has allowed economically vulnerable farmers to borrow not cash, but sheep, and repay the value of these sheep with their loans’ offspring that can then be directly re-lent to additional vulnerable farmers. In parallel, the project has operated outreach-based veterinary services to maximize the health of livestock.


  • Through the provision of regular veterinary services and vaccinations, mortality rates have been maintained below two percent among registered flocks with an annual average in 2009 of 1.30 percent as compared to unregistered flocks from the same villages where mortality rates ranged from 20 to 30 percent;
  • In 2009, 26,710 treatments were provided treating internal and external parasites, respiratory, metabolic and various infectious diseases;
  • Strengthening community cohesion and solidarity, with Afghan sheep owners themselves assisting poorer Afghans;
  • Empowering and engaging all levels of Afghans- central government, local government, and grassroots representative- in a participatory, result-oriented development process which can serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere.


  • In 2010 a total of 25,510 livestock comprised of 21,703 Karakul Sheep and 3,807 goats are receiving veterinary service from the A4 Sheep Bank’s trained mobile veterinary units (MVUs). The estimate total value of livestock within the project is USD $2,270,000;
  • A total of 1,768 livestock comprising of 1,482 Karakul sheep and 286 goats have been loaned to 177 households. The total worth of loaned livestock is valued at USD $147,680;
  • In terms of Economic impact from the reduced mortality rate for the Registered Sheep Owners as a group since 2007 an accrued estimated saving of 12,130 ewes and 2,170 goats, valued over USD 1,200,000;
  • Capacity building for 12 local para-vets to operate as MVUs to help their own community;
  • Sheep stock with improved quality and quantity to serve as a raw material base for further value addition and income generation from sheep by-products;
  • Expanding asset and income base to a wider population to allow for more equitable access to development opportunities.

    AREDP/MRRD website : Balkh Sheep Bank