PESHAWAR - A five-year project focusing on promotion of peace and improved stability in fragile regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through skill training and introduction of sustainable economic opportunities for income generation and livelihood, opened new avenues for thousands towards path of success and stability.

The project titled as ‘Market and Employment for Peace and Stability (ME4PS)’ was jointly launched by HELVETAS, a Swiss based non-governmental organization, and ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), a French humanitarian organisation.

The target area of the project was Charsadda, Mohmand and Bajaur districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, benefiting thousands of people.

The beneficiaries of the project are mostly youth (male, female including persons with disabilities) who received skill training and counselling about sustainable opportunities for income generation.

The project implementation revolved around three steps including social inclusion for mainstreaming of Persons with Disabilities, Economic Stability by imparting Vocational and Digital Training skills and Business Expansion by educating about new trends of agriculture and trade.

“ME4PS facilitated 7391 farmers and SMEs (23 percent women and 76 percent men) to expand their existing businesses in on and off farm value chain,” informed Syed Nadeem Bukhari, Senior official of HELVETAS.

The project introduced improved technologies to the farmers such as mulch sheets, anti-frost sheets, vertical farming and low cost walk in tunnel.

The farmers and SMEs experienced significant increase in production, income, knowledge and skill, Nadeem added.

Around 322 SMEs (mostly informal economy) were assisted in development of their business. While 277 women and 45 men were supported on cost sharing basis.

“With the support of ME4PS, the SMEs not only generated more income but also created employment opportunities, he added.

Around 78 percent of trained individuals (320 women and 762 men) entered into gainful employment. Of these trained individuals 63 are PWD, Persons with Disabilities, 13 women and 49 men.

604 beneficiaries (9 women and 595 men including 32 PWD) employed in 597 businesses in 21 different trades. While 478 beneficiaries (women 311 including 13 PWD and 167 men including 17 PWDs) are self-employed, Nadeem continued.

Sharing some success stories of the project, Nadeem gave example of Berhaman, a physically disabled lady from far off village of Bajaur who was living a very abysmal life with feeling of depression and anxious due to poverty, is now living an honourable life through earning as dress maker in her locality.

For the first visit of Berhaman to ME4PS office, she was piggy backed by her brother for several kilometres from her home to the road and after a few months learning the skills of dress making cloth cutting, sewing and stitching, the lady has become a source of inspiration for peer in the village.

Ismat Bibi (55) of Mohmand district was also living a very miserable life due to abject poverty and illness of her bed-ridden husband, but counselling and financial support under ME4PS for expansion of her tuck shop provided her timely support and now she is earning an amount sufficient for her household expenses and treatment of ailing spouse.

Wahab, a young boy from Mohmand, also benefited from skill training of the project and become a certified electrician from a daily wage labourer.

The certification opened new avenues for Wahab who wanted to bring his family out of poverty, but paltry income through daily wage was not sufficient for fulfilling of his dreams.

Zeenat, a self-assured and confident young educated girl from Charsadda district obtained training in upholstery and dress making and now is supporting her family besides purchased a land to construct a home for her poor parents.

Faiz-ur-Rehman, a 38 years old farmer from Harichand village of Charsadda is relishing the benefits of tunnel farming and making very handsome earning through growing of good quality strawberry.

Shaukat, a young boy from Bajaur, was forced to work as a labourer on daily wage of just Rs50 per day at a repair shop of generator and water pumps due to abject poverty.

His master used to beat him even for smaller mistakes and his duty hours were more than 12 hours a day.

He got training in Solar Photovoltaic Technician for six months and opened a shop with a start up capital of Rs80,000 and now his business has created jobs for two local lads who are also learning the skill from him.