Afghanistan pilots job-training scheme to take advantage of growing tourism

26 August 2004

The Afghan Government is piloting a scheme to teach widowed women the kind of skills necessary to work in the country's tourist industry, which is re-emerging after more than two decades of dormancy due to war and Taliban hostility, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported today.

The Afghan Government is piloting a scheme to teach widowed women the kind of skills necessary to work in the country's tourist industry, which is re-emerging after more than two decades of dormancy due to war and Taliban hostility, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported today.

More than 30 women are learning skills such as cooking, literacy and home-making, to take advantage of the growing interest from tourists in the site of the Bamiyan Buddha statues and the Band-i-Amir Lake in Afghanistan's central region.

If the pilot phase works, the scheme will be expanded to help more widowed women left financially vulnerable by the loss of their family's breadwinner, UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

Briefing reporters in the capital Kabul, he said that while there was no official data showing how many visitors travel to and stay in Bamiyan, there was widespread anecdotal evidence that tourist demand there is rising.

More guesthouses and restaurants have been built, and the Band-i-Amir Lake now has a hotel on its shore as well as paddle-boats for public use. The tourists appear to be a mix of Afghans and expatriates from the international community living in Kabul.

The Bamiyan Valley is on the World Heritage List of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of the significance of its archaeological remains, including ancient Buddhist and Islamic structures, and its cave art.

In March 2001 the Taliban regime sparked outrage when it destroyed two enormous standing statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley.

The Band-i-Amir Lake has also long been a favourite of photographers around the world because of its scenic setting.

The training scheme is funded by the Japan Cooperation International Agency (JICA).

 

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