The FINANCIAL — Poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan rose in the three years following the start of international troops withdrawing in 2011 due to a sharp fall in growth and rise in insecurity, a joint report by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the World Bank said.
With the country continuing to struggle with sluggish growth and deteriorating security, poverty is likely to have remained at high levels.
Poverty in Afghanistan rose to 39 percent of the population in 2013-14 from 36 percent in 2011-12, meaning an additional 1.3 million Afghans were unable to satisfy basic food and non-food needs. The Poverty Status Update report, which includes 2013-14 data as the latest available, also shows a dramatic deterioration in employment opportunities, especially in rural areas where unemployment increased by three times since 2012. In 2013-14, almost 2 million Afghans were unemployed; 60 percent of the unemployed were men and 74 percent of unemployed were in rural areas. Youth and illiterate workers were most hit. In 2013-14, one in three youth aged 14 to 24 were unemployed, and youth unemployment accounted for 46 percent of the total.
“This report shows a country where socio-economic progress is increasingly at risk and, although the latest data we have is from 2014, there is every reason to fear that poverty remains at high levels nowadays,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “We need therefore to redouble our efforts to ensure that economic growth reaches more Afghans and more is done to stop Afghan families from falling into or becoming trapped in poverty because of conflict, natural disasters, and economic events beyond their control.”
This second edition of the report said the intensifying conflict was making the already precarious lives of many Afghans even more vulnerable to unexpected setbacks. The conflict was increasing the likelihood that poverty would be handed on from today’s Afghans to the next generation, as children miss school and more families flee homes.
The economic and security crisis has once again emphasized deep and widening inequalities between Afghans who have the means to cope with shocks and those who must give up vital assets to stay alive. It is drawing a stark distinction between Afghans in cities with better security, access to services, and economic opportunities and those in rural areas; and between Afghan men and women, who increasingly find it difficult to access to education and health services. Such poverty and inequality, if left unaddressed, could threaten progress attained over the past 15 years.