Historically, poverty has been related to income, which is one of the main concepts in terms of social welfare today. Nonetheless, income is as problematic as a concept as poverty. As a result while we discuss poverty, we should discuss the income as well. In the context of Afghanistan, poverty is one of the main social issues. Poverty as a cause of conflict can exacerbate the current conflict in the country. Though, it is about 18 years that Afghanistan is one of the biggest recipients of the international aid, but the rate of poverty has increased in the country. According to new research findings, Afghanistan’s poverty rate has increased fast over the past five years as the economy has stalled and the Taliban insurgency has spread into new areas, and more than half (54%) of the Afghans live under poverty line in the country. Those Afghan citizens who live in poverty are substantially less likely to have access to electricity, safe drinking water and sanitation.
As poverty is both a critical national and social concern for Afghanistan, it is necessary to identify the root causes of it and also address them systematically at the policy level of the government.
Major causes of poverty
Since its founding, government corruption plagued Afghanistan. This has been and is one of the major causes of poverty in Afghanistan. Government officials both in previous administrations and even now take payments from contracting companies and misuse government revenues that should go to go into public trusts and instead such money and revenues are siphoned into their own personal bank accounts.
It is evident when government officials engage in this kind of corruption; the poor and underserved Afghan citizens are inevitably hurt. Considering the amount of international aid and the national revenues misused by the government officials, if these large sums of money stopped going into government officials’ pockets, the Afghan government could use such resources to build up the country’s infrastructure—electricity, roads, running water, improving health care facilities and more.
Damaging infrastructures, institutions and production, the destruction of assets, the breakup of communities and social networks, forced displacement, migration crisis, increased unemployment and inflation, changes in access to and relationship with local exchange, employment, death and injury to people are among the main consequences of conflict in a region, country and society. As a result, decades of war have destroyed economic and political institutions.
Lack of Economic Infrastructure
Afghanistan lacks the basic physical systems of a business — including transportation, communication, sewage, water and electric systems. These systems require high-cost investments and are vital to Afghanistan’s economic development and prosperity. However, Afghanistan with a weak economy cannot afford to establish them unless having access to long term loans.
Further, Afghanistan shall develop Infrastructures that support economic development at every level essential in order to pull people out of poverty. Therefore, setting up economic structures that empower Afghan people is vital to combating poverty within the country.
Poor Access to Education
Economic infrastructure is not the only infrastructure that is lacking in Afghanistan. Currently, many Afghans suffer from the lack of a robust educational system to serve the nation. About 64 percent of people over age 15 are illiterate. Currently Afghanistan has 9.2 million children in school of which 39 percent are girls. Insecurity is a key challenge for the education and because of this, thousands of students drop put annually. This not only contributes to increasing illiteracy in the country but also contributes to improving fundamentalism too.
Education plays a vital role in poverty alleviation. To this end, a dramatic change is needed in the way the government thinks about education’s role in development of Afghanistan. As a result, the education should be in gear with the Afghanistan’s challenges and aspirations and strengthens the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive development in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan can take specific measures to reduce poverty by focusing on different policies including tackling government corruption, addressing the root causes of violent conflicts, developing sustainable economic infrastructures, and improving access to comprehensive education.