Poverty and Unemployment; Consequence of the Political and Security Instability in Afghanistan


By Zia ul Islam Shirani / CSRS

After the US attack on Afghanistan’s soil, with the establishment of new system and the presence of foreign forces in the country, thousands of institutions, corporations and other domestic and foreign private organizations began to operate in the country, and the work opportunity, then, was provided to many Afghans; but with the exit of large portion of foreign troops in 2014, as well as the increase in political and security instability in the country, the level of poverty and unemployment also became increased.

The Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan, with the technical assistance of the ICON Institute, conducted a survey of the living conditions of the Afghan people in 1395. The poll, which was distributed to the media last week (16 Sawr 1397), said that 54.5% of the population of Afghanistan is living below the poverty line, up from 16.2% in 2012. According to the survey, in 1395, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan has increased from 22% to 24%.

However, the Afghan Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has promised Afghans to create more than two million jobs in the next three years, but Afghans do not trust the fulfillment of these promises in view of the country’s deteriorating situation.

The rising pace of poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan, its determinants and the strategies for reducing poverty and unemployment in the country are issues that have been addressed in this Analysis.


Rising Pace of Poverty and Unemployment

With attack of the Soviet Union on the territory of Afghanistan and the continuation of decades of war in the country, millions of Afghans have been forced to leave their country and, as a result, lost their capital, and poverty and unemployment among Afghans sharply became increased, especially during the civil war in the country.

In 2001, with the arrival of international troops in Afghanistan, billions of dollars also flowed into the country, and progress has been made in some sectors, but according to World Bank figures, poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan are not only declined in compare to poverty and unemployment in the world, but it has also been in rise.

In 2007 and 2008, 36.3% of the population of Afghanistan lived below the poverty line, but in 2011 and 2012, according to the World Bank, this percentage fell to 35.8%, which is not a significant decline. A further report by the World Bank and the Afghan government, which was scheduled for 2013 and 2014, the situation had deteriorated again, with poverty rates rose again from 35.8 percent to 39.1 percent in those years. [1]

After 2014 and the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG), considering the recent findings of the Central Statistics Organization of Afghanistan (CSO), the social crisis in Afghanistan has grown since the findings of this survey indicate that the people’s living conditions have deteriorated, and more than half of the population of Afghanistan live below the poverty line.

On the other hand, job creation efforts in the country that are directly related to poverty have failed or are at their lowest level. According to World Bank statistics, of the total workforce in Afghanistan, 4.6% of them were unemployed in 2001. In 2002 and 2003, this figure reached 4.6 and 4.9 percent. In 2004, the percentage of unemployment in the country had declined to 4.5, but in 2005 it rose again to 8.5%, after which the unemployment rate in Afghanistan has been on rise.

According to World Bank statistics, the unemployment rate in the country was 23 percent[2] in 2014 where 2 million of the total number of work force was unemployed; however, it is 40 percent today, according to the National Labor Organization’s statistics. [3] However, the findings of the Central Statistics Organization’s survey in relation to 1395 indicate that 24 percent of Afghanistan’s workforce is unemployed. According to the agency’s report, it is expected that 3.9 million young Afghans will reach the working age over the next five years, of which 1.6 million will enter the labor market, and according to the current level of labor participation and unemployment, around 540 thousand people will, then, be unemployed.


Why Afghans are living under Poverty and Unemployment?

Deteriorated Security Situation: Insecurities and continuation of war are one of the major factors that have faced the country with a crisis of poverty and unemployment. In addition to the escape of capital and investors from Afghanistan, the deteriorating security situation also blocked the use of funds from the Afghan ministries. Thus, the lack of investment in infrastructure sectors that have the power of recruiting the work force has encountered Afghanistan with a crisis of unemployment and poverty.

Political Instability: political instability and the persistence of internal disputes between the leaders of the government have led to a lack of attention to the emergence of programs and the adoption of practical measures and preventive measures to combat the phenomena of poverty and unemployment. After 2014, the leaders of NUG, despite the social crisis and the living conditions of the people of Afghanistan, were struggling with the division of government departments and political power that had a negative impact on people’s living conditions.

Corruption: Political instability and internal disputes of the Afghan government have led to further corruption in governmental departments. Corruption has caused hundreds of thousands of young educated people to become unemployed and there are tens of thousands of vacancies in the government departments, or there are imaginary employees.

Decrease in Assistances of International Community: One of the other important factors in increasing poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan is the reduction of international community assistance. Over the past one a half decade, millions of dollars have been donated by the international community to Afghanistan, and it has been proven to be useful in terms of job creation and fight against poverty and unemployment, but as it was not used to provide long-term occupations, so by its declination, unemployment and poverty also rose again.

The findings of the CSO survey also indicate that insecurity, the decline in the presence of international community in Afghanistan, the influx of returnees and the reduction of international assistance with Afghanistan are among the factors that has increased poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan. [4]


Struggle against Poverty and Unemployment

Unemployment and poverty have a direct link with the adoption of practical measures, comprehensive and ideal policies and programs that create long-term employment. Afghanistan, with its rich natural resources and strategic location, is a country with many capacities and potential opportunities that can provide a good panorama for Afghans’ hope and prosperity.

Reinforcing economic growth is considered as one of the key factors in combating poverty and unemployment, which has a direct bearing on the development of industry. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to provide the appropriate conditions and environment for private sector investments and to provide job creation and employment opportunities that the Afghan government has not yet succeeded in.

On the other hand, Afghanistan is an agricultural country and its agriculture plays vital role in its economy. In a recent survey by the Afghan Central Statistics Organization, 44 percent of Afghanistan’s agricultural labor force is engaged in agriculture and earns revenue from that sector. If the government paid attention to farmers for agricultural products in the country in terms of transit, finding suitable markets, raising the quality, processing and packaging, distributing fertilizers and improved agricultural seeds, and taking steps to support domestic production, the agricultural sector would contribute to economic growth and would play and important role in combating unemployment and poverty.

Generally, if a country has more economic growth, it can, in addition to creating jobs, income, and social welfare improvements in that country, also has impact on other issues such as security and peace, good governance, fighting corruption and political stability.

On the other hand, the problem of unemployment and poverty in the country, like any other program, requires peace in the country, and as long as there is no peace and security, efforts in the economic field will not have remarkable results.

The End

[1] The world bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/05/08/poverty-afghanistan-rose-amidst-troop-withdrawal-poverty-update-2017

[2]For further information:http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/afghanistan/overview

[3] For further information: https://www.darivoa.com/a/thirty-nine-percent-of-afghans-are-jobless/4371996.html

[4]For further information:


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