The international poverty eradication day is celebrated every year on 17 October. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries of the world. Therefore, for Afghanistan, this day must be significantly important but every year the poverty reduction day comes and goes just like other days. According to estimation more than 10 of 30 million people suffer from absolute poverty in Afghanistan. That means every third Afghan is living his life in extreme poverty waiting for the condition to improve, though disappointingly. Despite the input of about 38 billion dollars by international community in the last decade, the poverty condition has only worsened – poor people had not share in the huge amount of funds poured in Afghanistan.
Three decades of war and conflict that have ruined county’s main economic and social infra-structure, still continue with unknown ending date. The window opened for Afghans in 2001 after the fall of Taliban government, has now closed down due worsening security. Our national economic condition is highly vulnerable as Afghanistan is highly dependent on foreign loans and funds.
The employment rate is disappointingly low. Only professional individuals with high educational degrees have jobs. That is also expected to diminish with withdrawal of the international community from Afghanistan by 2014. Many of those people who were employed by various foreign NGOs have been fired as the flow of fund for those NGOs has decreased or completely stopped.
Unemployment is deemed to be a great contributor for poverty to get worse with the passage of the time. Last year on the poverty reduction day, the government of Afghanistan regarded unemployment as a main reason behind poverty in Afghanistan. The same applies on this year too.
Every year thousands of Afghans cross borders illegally. The actual date of migration of Afghans is ambiguous. However, a major portion of Afghan population started migrating to neighboring, closely located and other countries of the world towards the end of nineteenth century. Then it was due to genocide, massacre, injustice and brutality practiced by the government of that time - replayed during the Taliban tenure of government.
Today Afghans escape the vicious circle of poverty. Poverty has led people to go astray. The migration of Afghans is managed by the vast network of human smugglers and losing life does not matter in this business. Afghans have to migrate at the risk of their lives to kill poverty or themselves.
Terrorism which is the biggest threat to the stability of Afghanistan, the region and international security, is bolstered by poverty. Many join al Qaida and Taliban not on basis of religious beliefs or extremism but because of not having enough to feed their family. Disappointed from life many unemployed Afghan youths are believed to join insurgents or get involved in poppy cultivation, production or drug trafficking. The phenomenon will do no less to worsen the security condition as insurgents get stronger.
The Afghans believe that most issues in Afghanistan, specifically terrorism are given birth by poverty but it seems like the high authorities are undermining this factor. According to a survey conducted by Oxfam in 2009, the vast majority of Afghans blame poverty and unemployment for the ongoing conflict in their country.
The survey founded that 70 per cent of 700 people questioned, blamed the economic situation for the fighting, with government weakness and corruption the second most important factor behind the conflict.
Afghans seems to have caught between poppy, insecurity and corruption. Corruption is perceived an important factor that has contributed to poverty. The benefits of huge amounts of international funds have not reached the common Afghans as those with more political influence have concentrated on gaining much profit from the prevailing environment in which the government is so weak that it can not control the worsening problem of corruption despite the continuous international pressure.
The most annoying part of the story is that no significant attention is being paid to the issue and poverty goes on increasing in Afghanistan. The rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer. The prices of basic necessities are soaring by the passage of each day while the values of luxuries goods are decreasing – this factor is posing countless constraints for the poor section of the country. The population of Afghanistan is lesser as compared to neighboring countries - only between 30 to 35 million people live in Afghanistan, in spite of that a major portion of population in Afghanistan have to live below the line of poverty. That is because of the government in sleeping like a log paying no attention to the woes of poor Afghans.
The coordination between non government organizations and government has been very weak. The control, monitoring or audit of the thousand of foreign and national organizations is almost zero. Coordinated efforts of organizations are considered to be more effective to alleviate poverty.
Therefore, the government has to not only create better coordination with international organizations but also work for improving the effectiveness of the aids received from donor countries. The development and reconstruction projects can be helpful in creating job opportunities of Afghans and lessen poverty.
There is pressing need to rehabilitate the industry and agriculture sectors and develop the mineral industry of Afghanistan. Also security needs to be improved and corruption has to be curbed. Such measures would, with no doubt, bring Afghans out the severe poverty they are facing today. Although the ten-year performance of the government in above areas has been weak, the Afghans should not be hopeless. Development can not be achieved over nights.