Increasing poverty in Afghanistan

The World Bank has contributed $120m for reduction of poverty, increasing access to hygienic potable water and improvement of financial system. Because of this, more than 3.5 million afghan will have now an access to clean water.

36% of population in Afghanistan live below poverty line, and according to the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, 15% of the people do not have enough food even to feed themselves.

What does poverty mean? What is the rate of poverty in Afghanistan and the world? What will be the poverty rate in Afghanistan in the future? These are the questions that are answered here.


Poverty and poverty rate worldwide

Economists have various views regarding to the definitions of poverty and its measurement; for instance according to some economists those who eats less food than 2000-2500 calories per day is considered to be poor.. But the World Bank has created another indicator earning of $1.25 per day to define poverty, according to the World Bank; those with less than $1.25 daily income are in extreme poverty and those with an amount of income less than $2 are in moderate poverty. There are also other determiners to define poverty, for instance, life expectancy, children death, the amount of food-energy intake, safety and etc.

There are different statistics about the amount of people living below poverty line; according to the World Bank, currently 10.7% of the world’s population earns an income of less than $1.90, which means 767 million people currently live below poverty line in all over the world.

Since the past few decades, poverty rate is declining worldwide. In 1990, 35% of the world population (1.85 billion people) had an income bellow $1.90 per day, and in 2012, 12.4% of the world population (881 million people) gained less than $1.90 per day[1].


Poverty in Afghanistan (2001-2016)

Afghanistan is one of the low income countries; and one of the characteristics of such countries is the high rates of poverty. Although there are no exact statistics of poverty rate in years during and before cold war in Afghanistan, but certainly the Soviet invasion and civil war increased poverty in Afghanistan; because in this period, many Afghans migrated to Pakistan and lost the sole source of income they had before the soviet invasion.

After 2001, security was maintained for few years and foreign aids increased, and some social and economic sectors also developed; but still the World Bank statistics indicates that, compared to the world poverty rate, the poverty rate in Afghanistan is remained almost constant and has not reduced.

In post-2001 years, it was one of the shortcomings of the free market capitalism in Afghanistan that all the wealth was poured into the pockets of only few individuals. In 2007 and 2008, 36.3% of the population in Afghanistan lived below poverty line. Although, in 2011 and 2012, poverty decreased in Afghanistan but still it can be presumed almost constant. In 2011, 35.8% of the Afghan population lived below poverty line which means 9 million Afghans lived in extreme poverty (3 out of 8 Afghans were poor) [2]. (Chart-1)


Chart-1: poverty rate in Afghanistan



Source: World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Economy

The majority of Afghans live in remote areas and the poverty rate among population living in these areas and villages is high. According to the joint survey of the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Economy, four out of each five individuals in remote areas live in poverty. In addition, more than a half (51.8%) of the children in these areas lives below poverty line[3].

The highest rates of poverty in the country was in Northeastern, West-Central, Eastern and Southern provinces while the lowest rates of poverty was in Central and Southwestern provinces. However, compared to 2007, in 2011 the poverty rate declined in all over the country (except Northeastern regions). (See chart-2).


Chart-2: poverty rate in various parts of Afghanistan (2007-2012)



Source: the joint research and survey of the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Economy-2011

Note: Classification of provinces by regions is as follows: Southwest: Nimroz, Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Urozgan; Central: Kabul, Kapisa, Parwan, Wardak, Logar, Panjsher; West: Badghis, Herat, Farah; North: Samangan, Balkh, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, Faryab; South: Ghazni, Paktika, Paktya, Khost; East: Nangarhar, Kunarha, Laghman, Nooristan; West-central: Ghor, Bamyan, Daykundi; Northeast: Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Kunduz.

The highest rate of poverty was recorded in Kabul where more than one million people lived below poverty line. The poverty rate in other provinces is brought in chart-3.

Chart-3: poverty rate in the provinces of Afghanistan


Source: the joint survey of the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Economy-2011

The future situation of poverty in Afghanistan

53% of the children less than 15 years of age in Afghanistan also live below poverty line which signifies extreme condition. If the Afghan government provides education to these kids, the poverty rate would become far reduce in the country; because 75.6% of people, older than 15 years of age, living in poverty are illiterate. Only 7.1% of poor people more than 15 years of age have completed primary schools. In the meanwhile 8.4% of poor population is unemployed and 41.1% is relatively unemployed[4].

On the other hand, from every 1000 babies born in Afghanistan, 66 die in the first year of their birth[5] and according to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, 40% of are food insecure[6]. Therefore, the poverty rate can only be reduced by paying attention to economic development, education, employment and agriculture sector.

The end

[1] You can find the statistics of World Bank regarding poverty here:

[2] The joint survey and reach of the World Bank and the Afghan Ministry of Economy; Afghanistan Poverty Status Update: An analysis based on National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) 2007/08 and 2011/12, Oct 2015, see it online:<>

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] ADB, Poverty in Afghanistan, see it online:<>

[6] Although, the World Food Organization say this number to be 9.3 million and also 1.1 million children are malnourished. Read more here:

and the report of Deutsche Welle :

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