The Ministry of Finance asserts that in the post Taliban Afghanistan, per capita income has increased from USD 70 in 2001 to USD 300 in 2008. However, Afghanistan is still ranked as the fourth poorest and most deprived country in the world, and the poorest country in the entire Asia-Pacific region, according to the Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007. Decades of conflict combined with a number of serious earthquakes, consecutive droughts and other natural disasters have had dramatic impacts on the Afghan population. Those affected are the poorest demographic, equally split between the countryside and urban areas.
Since the fall of the Taliban and the end of major combat, economic growth has been rapid. There has been a strong recovery, although from a very low level of activity, accompanied by an improvement in some social indicators. In the past eight years, millions of Afghan refugees have returned to their home country and school enrolment has continuously increased, particularly among girls. Significant progresses have also been achieved in the health sector, evidenced by the massive success of consecutive vaccination campaigns. However, despite the economic recovery, Afghanistan still ranks very poorly on all social indicators. According to the latest report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), about ten million people suffer from severe poverty with a large number earning less than 1 USD a day. Human poverty in Afghanistan is a multidimensional problem that includes inequalities in access to productive resources and social services; poor health, education and nutritional status; weak social protection systems; vulnerability to disasters; human displacement and gender inequality.
While there is no exact statistic about the rate of unemployment in Afghanistan, it is believed that some 40% of the country’s estimated 30 million people are jobless. This high rate of unemployment has driven thousands of Afghans to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran in search of jobs. Unfortunately, this situation increasingly benefits the Taliban, who commonly seek recruits among the jobless with offers of money.
According to the World Bank, in 2009 only 13% of Afghans have access to safe drinking water, 12% to adequate sanitation and just 6% to electricity. In rural Afghanistan, which supports the agriculture sector, the main industry in Afghanistan, the lack of technical and infrastructure capacity, including clean affordable energy, maintains a high level of socio-economic insecurity. Despite large agricultural potential, the country is missing rural entrepreneurship, market linkages, access to financing and technology and a strong private sector to create job opportunities.
Kind of sobering, isn't it....