Category: Livelihoods

Livelihoods – Summary

The overarching issues facing refugees in Pakistan are the difficulties in accessing formal jobs due to the limited rights associated with the PoR cards and the absence of a process for requesting work permits. There is also a lack of awareness of the PoR cards in the local business community. Additionally, many refugees are stuck as daily labourers as they do not have time to learn new skills. Lastly, refugees are normally not eligible for courses run by government institutions that offer opportunities for individuals to develop specific technical skills.

Nevertheless, there is great interest amongst refugees, including female refugees, for livelihoods trainings on topics as diverse as marketing, bricklaying, embroidery and finishing techniques in dress making.

While some of the specific trainings noted in each district help improve the livelihoods of Afghan refugees, three more strategic steps that would positively impact on the livelihoods of Afghan refugees in Pakistan are as follows:

  1. Advocacy by UNHCR on the provision of official work permits for refugees.
  2. Refugees become eligible for enrolment in government vocational training institutes.
  3. Development of linkages between skilled Afghan youth and potential employers.

Livelihoods – Abbottabad

The most common livelihoods in Abbottabad for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers and shopkeepers.

In urban areas, Afghan refugees rent houses, own cars, work in offices or run their own businesses. Many of them receive remittances from family or friends living abroad.

Urban refugees are generally not aware about livelihoods programmes organised by international organisations.

Livelihoods – Haripur

In Haripur, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, normally on farms as the district is heavily reliant on agriculture.

Agriculture is the predominant livelihood of the rural population while in urban areas many refugees work in factories or as labourers on construction sites.

A few refugees in Haripur are self-employed, typically in carpet weaving or distribution businesses, restaurants, car sales, import-export, small shops, greengrocers or as drivers.

In urban areas, Afghan refugees rent houses, own cars, work in offices or run their own businesses.

Training on a range of vocational skills in the RAHA programme has been provided in 20 centres throughout Haripur, particularly for urban female refugees. Nevertheless, many urban refugees are not aware of these training programmes, necessitating greater outreach by UNHCR and partner organisations. In Haripur, the vast majority of the activities funded by UNHCR are focused on those refugees residing within the refugee villages (former camps).

Livelihoods – Islamabad

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers in informal sectors. Some refugees do manage their own businesses and factories in Rawalpindi.

Most of the refugees living in the twin city are relatively poor. It is particularly difficult for the small number of non-Afghan refugees (e.g. Myanmarese and Somali) to find employment, most of whom live in Islamabad or Rawalpindi.

In addition to the general issues faced by refugees in Pakistan with respect to livelihoods, in the twin city additional social mobilization has been recommended in order to raise awareness within the refugee community of livelihood initiatives and opportunities.

Livelihoods – Karachi

In Karachi, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, drivers, loaders, garbage collectors, scrap dealers, vegetable sellers, restaurant owners and shopkeepers (particularly selling carpets). Also, some refugees do manage small family businesses and factories, typically related to carpet weaving or distribution.

Most Afghan refugees in Karachi are extremely poor compared with other districts and competition for jobs within the community and also with other immigrant communities is fierce.

There is huge demand for vocational skills trainings and refugees are particularly interested in collaborative efforts between UNHCR and the government of Sindh in this regard. Specific training recommendations by refugees to be included in the RAHA programme include the following trades for men: motor mechanics, mobile repair / technicians, electricians and tailors. For women, refugees have requested tailoring, embroidery and credit schemes for small business/ shops.

Livelihoods – Kohat

In Kohat, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers (80%), farm hands, drivers, brick workers, cloth merchants, skilled labour and business owners.

In addition to the general concerns from refugees, travel restrictions and police harassment at checkposts in Kohat also negatively impact on refugees’ ability to find and hold onto jobs.

Livelihoods – Lahore

In Lahore, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, loaders, garbage collectors, scrap dealers, carpet weavers and wholesale businessmen. Some refugees do manage their own businesses and factories in Lahore.

In Lahore, it is the Tajik community who are expert carpet weavers while many other Afghans are much poorer and often involved in garbage collection or processing.

Projects thought to be of the greatest benefit by refugees in Lahore are those providing opportunities to the Afghan youth.

Livelihoods – Mansehra

In Mansehra, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, shopkeepers and greengrocers. A small proportion work as drivers or in offices or run their own businesses.

Many refugees receive remittances from family or friends living abroad.

Many urban refugees are not aware of training programmes conducted in Mansehra, necessitating greater outreach by UNHCR and partner organisations.

Livelihoods – Mardan

In Mardan, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers on farms and industrial labour. Some have private businesses or are involved in government service provision.

Compared with other districts, refugees residing in Mardan are poor and often do not have access to basic facilities. Refugees largely depend upon agriculture and industrial labour which is seasonal and casual in nature.

In 2007, BEFARe trained 250 female refugees in Mardan to develop their entrepreneurial and cash handling skills.

In addition to the general concerns from refugees, travel restrictions and police harassment at checkposts in Mardan also negatively impact on refugees’ ability to find and hold onto jobs.

Additional livelihoods and vocational skills trainings are regularly requested by refugees in this district.

Livelihoods – Mirpur

In Mirpur, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers and carpet weavers.

Afghans residing in city are normally able to find employment, particularly in the textiles business, small shops, scrap dealers or running restaurants. However, Afghans living in more remote communities are in a poorer economic situation. In all areas, it is almost impossible for Afghans to find jobs in the public sector.

Livelihoods – Nowshera

In Nowshera, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers on farms and in factories and as shop keepers. Some are also employed as skilled workers and a few own small family businesses.

Compared with other districts, refugees in Nowshera are relatively poor.

Vocational trainings have been conducted for 130 women and 180 men in the RAHA programme.

Additional livelihoods and vocational skills trainings are regularly requested by refugees in this district.

Livelihoods – Peshawar

In Peshawar, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers in carpet weaving factories and as drivers. Some refugees do manage small family businesses and factories in Peshawar and others are skilled labourers or have government or private jobs.

Carpet weaving is primarily considered to be a vocation conducted by Hazara and Turkman minorities. Those refugees that are self-employed typically are in transport, hotel, farming, livestock rearing, beekeeping, handicrafts and brick production businesses.

The average monthly income for income earning Afghans ranges between PKR 6,500 to PKR 12,500 compared with the Pakistani average of approximately 21,000 PKR. Refugee household income in Peshawar ranges from 11,000 to 16,500 PKR (PPVR 2011). Refugees living further away from the centre of Peshawar tend to earn less.

Many children also work and typically earn between 100 and 300 PKR a day (1 to 3 USD). Adult daily wage labourers typically earn 300 to 500 PKR a day (3 to 5 USD).

Many refugees receive remittances from family or friends living abroad.

Many livelihoods and vocation skills trainings have been conducting in Peshawar as part of the RAHA programme. See explore.rahapakistan.org for details of these projects.

Barriers identified by refugees to setting up their own businesses include a lack of initial capital, poor linkages between businesses in the market place, expensive raw materials and tools.

Refugees, men and women, have requested microfinancing schemes, vocational trainings, small scale enterprises loans and business support schemes. Refugees also direly need to be able to open bank accounts, which is currently not included in the refugees’ rights in Pakistan. In KP changes to the law governing rental legal agreements has resulted in refugees face greater difficulties in finding appropriate premises to rent.

Livelihoods – Quetta

In Quetta, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers and shopkeepers.

A number of livelihoods initiatives are underway including:

  • Norwegian Refugee Council has implemented skills development courses at the Technical Training Centre (a government training institute) specifically for female refugees in urban areas.
  • Mercy Corps are running a training course on rearing poultry and livestock in urban areas of Quetta (70% of attendees are refugees and 30% are Pakistani).
  • Save the Children are running broad skill development workshops (all refugees, 80% male and 20% female).
  • CRS (Catholic relief services) are running livelihood oriented skill development trainings in urban areas of Quetta (70% of attendees are refugees and 30% are Pakistani).
  • UNDP, through the RAHA programme, have conducted a number of training courses including livelihood oriented skills development, home based rearing of poultry and food preservation for refugees and the host community in urban areas of Quetta.
  • UNHCR, through the RAHA programme, have implemented several livelihood projects since 2009 in urban areas of Quetta. These include a range of activities from marketing businesses to constructing skill development centres, training on the processing of solid waste and how to generate good quality fertiliser.
  • Provincial government departments, including the Social Welfare department, have coordinated trainings focused on helping women to develop marketable skills. This department also manages the skills development centres that have been constructed in Quetta.

Livelihoods – Swabi

In Swabi, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers on farms or as shopkeepers. Some refugees do manage small family businesses.

Compared with other districts, refuges in Swabi are poor and rely on seasonal farming and daily wage labour to provide their income. A few refugees do manage shops and small businesses.

Livelihoods projects in Swabi include a project run by Salik foundation in the RAHA programme for people with disabilities in union councils Topi and Dagai (80% host community and 20% refugees). Other projects specifically aim to empower women through training on environmental sustainability.

However, the demand for these trainings greatly exceeds the current capacity to deliver such trainings in Swabi.