Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Growing Poverty and its Root Factors in Afghanistan

In recent days, the Afghan government has announced that it will impose restrictions on government spending due to decline in customs revenues occupied by the Taliban. The Ministry of Finance has asked the ministries and independent agencies to stop or suspend their development projects because of rise of expenses in the security, defense and health sectors. The Ministry of Finance has also asked the ministries to suspend the recruitment of technical staff with high salaries and refrain from all unnecessary expenses. This report and other daily news show that the government is not in a good economic condition while the people were already in a dire poverty crisis.
Famine and poverty is a global issue that has intensified as a result of war, climate change and covid-19 pandemic. According to Oxfam, at least 11 people die in every minute in world because of starvation, but in Afghanistan the situation is far worse than that. Few months ago, SIGAR reported that the level of poverty increased to 72% in late 2020 and early 2021, but after the recent national issues such as advances of Taliban, occupation of the customs, displacement of millions of people because of war and drought, falls of Afghani, now Afghanistan is in absolute poverty crisis. It means that the immensity and depth of poverty crisis in Afghanistan are so much that is not possible to overcome by imposing restrictions on government spending. Given the critical condition and daily reports, it seems that 90% of Afghan people are at serious risk of poverty and dire need of food packages while the government had only predicted about 17 million$ budget to combat the crisis.
Although all people are suffering from war and poverty, the children, orphan and women are more at critical condition in the country. With killing thousands of people and caretaker of children, a large number of them became fully helpless as there is no public program or fiscal capacity to support all orphans in the country.  Indisputably, when men who are the breadwinner of the family are unemployed and unable to earn the necessary expenses for their families, it’s obvious that women and their children cannot enjoy healthy eating. Then, instead of going to schools, they go to streets to earn a living while a number of families prefer to decrease the number of family or number of food eaters through sending them to those seminaries that freely provide them food and shelter. This way, a large number of children are trained and brainwashed outside the country and then come back with dangerous mentality to continue the cycle of war and violence.
As pointed out, there are three main factors behind the growing poverty, but the first and most factors are war and violence in Afghanistan. Based on daily news, millions the people have been displaced or lost their property as a result of war and violence. According to the latest UNAMA report some 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,254 wounded – a 47 percent increase compared with the same period last year since the beginning of the current year. Although the independent organizations usually blame all warring sides for the children causalities, the local officials usually attribute it to Taliban. The important point is that the war and violence will continue to fuel humanitarian needs in the country threatening people’s wellbeing and access to essential services like hospitals and clinics as well as humanitarian support.
The next important factor is drought and climate change. Nearly all provinces of Afghanistan are faced with drought and water shortage but some provinces include Herat, Badghis, Nimroz, Helmand Ghor, Jozjan, Bulkh, Sare-pool, Faryab, Badakhshan, Takhar, Bamyan, Daikundy, panshir, Kabul, Kapisa, Maidan wordak, Nangarhar, Qandhar, Ghazni, Paktiya and parwan are in critical conditions. In some provinces people have already lost their farms and trees due to lack of water in the hot summer. Amidst this provinces Kabul is in a very critical condition. On one hand, the ground water in Kabul crowded city has dropped to 40 meters because of different reasons. On the other hand, the Kabul crowded city has become more crowded because of the displaced people who have come to Kabul from districts and provinces.
The third factor which has worsened the economic situation is covid-19. Although corona-virus threatens every one and every country in the world but poor people and poor countries are more vulnerable than richer ones. Inevitably people are more susceptible when they are malnourished or already in poor health condition. This hypothesis is not only confirmed by health experts but also by historical evidence. For example, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide whereas about 15 million of which was only from India because of being relatively poorer at that time than other parts of the world. So, it seems that there will also be carnage if no serious measures are taken in poor countries  such Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and Afghanistan where many health facilities either are weak or have been entirely destroyed by war.
In short, the people of Afghanistan, especially the farmers, displaced, laborers, and citizens in large cities of Afghanistan are in dire economic condition because of war, climate change and covid-19 pandemic. In these extraordinary times, we should not only fight with terrorists but also with poverty and its affiliated issues such as hoarding and fall of Afghan currency. The government needs to urgently free the customs and ports, control the prices, consider to the issue of displacement with the help of international allies or else there will be a tragedy in the country. In addition to this, the government should announce an emergency situation as the vastness of the nationwide poverty crisis seems beyond the fiscal capacity of the government to overcome the issue.