Afghan Faces Cascading Effects A year After Taliban takeover

Humanitarian Crisis Reversing Gains of the Last 20 Years in Afghanistan

A year after Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the country faces “cascading crises” and a crippled economy that humanitarian aid alone cannot address, said a new report by the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP).

“The cost of a basket of essentials needed to avoid food poverty has meanwhile risen 35 percent, forcing poorer households to go deeper into debt or sell off assets just to survive. Nearly 700,000 jobs have vanished, further threatening a population reeling from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, drought, and war in Ukraine,” the report “One Year in Review: Afghanistan Since August 2021,” concludes said.

In the Foreword, UNDP Resident Representative Abdallah Al Dardari said that the multiple shocks faced have further revealed the structural defects in the Afghan economy that inhibit progress toward sustainable and equitable progress. “Two decades of heavy dependence on international aid and imports, a lack of industrialization and competitiveness, and limited mobility and connectivity among regions, among other factors, have hindered Afghanistan’s forward momentum. Nonetheless, the Afghan people continue to demonstrate extraordinary resilience by facing these difficulties, despite limited opportunity and significant sacrifice,” the official said.

“The Afghan people have been relentlessly subjected to extremely difficult circumstances. They have survived numerous challenges in the last 40 years and shown enormous resilience. Yet the last 12 months have brought cascading crises: a humanitarian emergency; massive economic contraction; and the crippling of its banking and financial systems in addition to denying access to secondary education to girls and the restrictions on women’s mobility and participation in the economy,” the report said.

AFGHAN; EXPANDED CONNECTIVITY, LIVELIHOODS AND RIGHTS

In the report, the authors say “with GDP in steady decline since 2008, Afghanistan had come to rely on international aid to sustain its economy, which accounted for 75 percent of total government spending and nearly 40 percent of GDP at the time of transition. But foreign donors largely suspended aid after the transition.”

“Two decades of heavy dependence on international aid and imports, a lack of industrialization and competitiveness, and limited mobility and connectivity among regions, among other factors, have hindered Afghanistan’s forward momentum,” the report says.

AFGHAN; WOMEN

Meanwhile, UNDP Asia-Pacific DirectorKanni Wignaraja said “the rights of women and girls are critical for the future of Afghanistan. It starts with education and continues with equal opportunity when it comes to employment and pay. UNDP made the support to women-owned businesses front and centre of its aid activities: we provided support to 34,000 women-owned small businesses. Our goal is to reach 50,000 women-owned business by the end of this year.”  

AFGHAN; KEY FINDINGS

  • The price of a food basket, with the minimum calories to escape food poverty, has surged 35 percent since August 2021.
  • Nearly 700,000 jobs were lost by mid-2022.
  • Among jobs women have lost in government ministries and entities, more than 14,000 or 82 percent were in the Ministry of Education, following restrictions on girls’ education.
  • A shrinking licit economy has increased the share of the illicit economy to 12-18 percent of GDP, from about 9-14 percent a year ago. 
  • A severe liquidity crisis has affected financial services; the micro-finance sector has nearly collapsed, hitting poor and female borrowers hardest.
  • Nearly 20 million people face high and critical levels of food insecurity since August 2021, almost twice the average in the preceding three years.
  • Children under five face a serious threat of severe acute malnutrition, particularly in the south.

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