Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Afghanistan’s ‘Poverty Status Update’

The second edition of the Poverty Status Update report for Afghanistan was released last week and it showed that socio-economic progress is increasingly at risk in the country. The report highlighted that Afghan households had been negatively affected by the crisis triggered by the security and political transition. The decline in aid and growth damaged jobs, and the escalation of conflict further intensified the vulnerability of the Afghan people. It also pointed at an increasing poverty – about 39 percent of Afghans now poor. Moreover, it revealed that there are not enough jobs to meet the needs of a fast-growing labor force and provide livelihoods to illiterate and unskilled Afghans. The diffusion and intensification of conflict, the report showed, would further perpetuate poverty down to future generations as children miss school and more families flee their homes. 
The report also revealed that the economic and security crisis have given rise to widening inequalities between those who have the means to cope with shocks and those who must give up vital assets to stay alive. This widening gap can also be observed in urban and rural lives - urban Afghans are safer and have better access to services and economic opportunities than those living in rural areas. Moreover, the report also highlighted that inequalities also persist between Afghan men and women, who increasingly find it difficult to access education and health services. The report, therefore, warned that if left unattended, poverty and inequality can further undermine social cohesion and jeopardize progress attained in the past 15 years.
Most importantly the report also raised concerns about the declining GDP growth rate. It showed that GDP growth slowed down from 1.3 percent in 2014 to .8 percent in 2015, and marginally improved to 1.2 percent in 2016. However, it said, while the economy is expected to eventually rebound, growth will likely remain below the 8 percent required to fully employ Afghanistan’s growing labor force; meanwhile, conflict and fragility will likely continue constraining Afghanistan’s development and progress toward reducing poverty. 
As a matter of fact, both the Karzai and Ashraf Ghani governments did not consider poverty as a top priority matter. Therefore, there has not been any comprehensive policy to tackle the issue of poverty. As a result poor Afghan people face different sorts of miseries almost on daily basis. As the socio-economic conditions in the country have not improved, the people face different sorts of social and economic problems and, therefore, take every sort of step to fulfill the overgrowing necessities of life. The poor people in particular are influenced the most and they are compelled to live from hand to mouth because no considerable development has been made in the country. In fact, the funds and assistance that flowed in the country for development projects were devoured by corruption and ended in the bank accounts of the ruling elite. Therefore, the differences among the rich and poor have multiplied and so have the social and economic problems for the poor people.
The poor people are compelled to take decisions that may even endanger their lives, while, there are people in the country who have no concerns for these people. Particularly, the authorities within the government and other responsible institutions have only managed to benefit themselves. As a result, the broadening gap between the rich and poor strata has reached to its extreme.
The widening gap between the rich and the poor or the class disparities can be best observed in capital Kabul. There are some tall, luxurious and magnificently built houses with visibly all the facilities of life while on the other hand there are houses that cannot be termed houses in the true sense of the word. Many of them are nothing more than tents that cannot guard the people against the severe weather conditions. Then there are many people who live without houses. They have to spend their nights along or under the different bridges in the city. These disparities between the rich and poor are affecting the society as a whole.

There are millions who do not have the basic requirements of life and are compelled to live their lives in the remotest areas, without much support and attention. Food, cloth, shelter and other requirements like education and security are non-existent for them. And, at the same time, there are people who own properties worth millions of dollars. These are all the results of an intense stratification. The poor do not seem to be having many opportunities of improvements in their lives and that means that social mobility, which can provide oxygen to a stratified society does not exist, while the social injustice is on the rise. The law and order system, instead of treating everyone alike, has served as the slave of the upper-class. The current scenario if goes unchecked can bring further misery to Afghan society.