The Kabul authorities are painting houses bright colours in order to give a new lease of life to the area - and improve residents' mental health

“Afghans know the impact colour can have on life,” says Abdul Waheed, a 21-year-old clerk at the Afghan Parliament and resident of one of the thousands of mud-brown houses that blanket the mountains surrounding Kabul. Or, rather, the houses that were mud-brown – Waheed’s home, and the others behind him, are now painted in joyful pinks, blues and whites, as part of a new initiative to brighten Afghanistan’s capital.

It isn’t easy to climb up to the houses located on the mountain tops. There’s no road; there’s barely even a path, and every step is a gamble. Open sewage flows down the rocky slopes; you have to find firm ground with every step upwards. Yet small children and older men and women who have been living in these hills for ages navigate easily as they carry water back to their houses for daily use.

Despite extreme adversity, the Afghan affinity for colour has always been visible in the form of small decorations, colourful doors and hand-painted flower pots outside nearly every mud house. Now, the Kabul city administration has taken this aesthetic and run with it, launching a project to paint the exteriors of nearly 2000 houses on the western-facing hills of Kabul.

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