Asia Pacific

UNDP’s saying Afghanistan’s economy has really gone down the drain

Kanni Wignaraja, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, who recently visited the country, told correspondents in New York that 69 per cent of Afghans are “subsistence insecure” – meaning they do not have enough basic resources.

“Something that really hit me … was the harsh impact of continuous natural disasters,” she said, adding that many parts of Afghanistan are facing “dramatic” scarcity of water further setting back development efforts.

Lights out

Since the takeover by the Taliban in 2021, the Afghan economy has contracted by 27 per cent, leading to economic stagnation, according to UNDP. Unemployment has doubled and only 40 per cent of the population has access to electricity.

Sectors such as finance have “basically collapsed” and there are no major sources of economic activity such as exports or public expenditure, leaving small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and farmers as the lifeblood of the faltering economy.

Afghan economy, households and cross-cutting sectors.

Ban on girls’ education

She also voiced concern over the situation of women and girls.

There have been severe restrictions on women imposed by the Taliban, such as on their dress code and employment in various sectors.

While they can work without restriction in sectors such as health or nursing, their employment in the public sector dropped even further to about six per cent, Ms. Wignaraja said.

“The biggest challenge is the continued edict that bans girls’ education. Not being able to move forward after the sixth grade is a major stumbling block,” she added.

“Last year, no girl graduated the twelfth grade so how are they going to jump from sixth grade to moving into technical colleges or universities need for the medical field?” she exclaimed.

Local economy reeling

The UNDP official also noted the challenges facing local economies and the lack of capital, especially in the private sector.

UNDP is supporting microfinance initiatives, but with no cash flowing through the system, results are not at the level and scale required to spur growth.

She expressed hope that recent funds from the World Bank for climate projects could prompt other global climate cash investments.

“We can still work directly with the community to make this happen,” she said.

Situation in Herat

Ms. Wignaraja also visited Herat province, the epicentre of last October’s earthquakes.

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“Just driving through villages and talking to villagers, there is a huge contrast,” she said, noting that there are whole villages still living in tents without access to water and those that are starting to build permanent structures.

“For me the bottom line is that we have to let household economies and local economies pick back up. People do not want to live in tents, they cannot survive the sandstorms in tents,” she added.

Supporting women-led business

In conclusion, the UNDP official highlighted the agency’s support to some 75,000 women-owned and women-led micro and small businesses.

“They in turn employ about, on average, six other women and young people. Each of them feeds a household of ten,” she said, noted that in total about 4.5 million people benefit.

“We spend on average $42 a month per women’s business – that’s it,” she added, underscoring the resilience and boldness of women entrepreneurs.

Overall, with women farmers and traders, as well as direct cash support and household social protection prorgrammes, UNDP has reached one quarter of women across Afghanistan, she said.

“The story of this country will come back through their boldness and efforts,” she concluded.

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14 Comments

  1. Is there any international aid being provided to help mitigate the economic crisis in Afghanistan?

    1. Yes, international aid is being channeled to assist with the economic crisis in Afghanistan. Various organizations, including UNDP, are actively involved in providing support and resources to alleviate the dire situation. It’s crucial that the international community continues to step in to help the Afghan people during these challenging times.

  2. It’s truly heartbreaking to see the dire state of Afghanistan’s economy and the challenges faced by its people, especially with the recent takeover by the Taliban. The statistics shared by UNDP paint a grim picture of the situation, and it’s clear that urgent action is needed to support the country’s recovery and development.

  3. It’s truly heartbreaking to hear about the devastating impact on Afghanistan’s economy and the severe restrictions on women and girls. The statistics shared by UNDP paint a grim reality that needs urgent attention and action. My thoughts are with the Afghan people during these tough times.

  4. It’s truly heartbreaking to hear about the devastating state of Afghanistan’s economy and the severe impact it’s having on the lives of its people. The alarming statistics shared by Kanni Wignaraja highlight the urgent need for international support and intervention to help lift the country out of this crisis.

  5. It’s truly heartbreaking to see the devastating impact the Taliban takeover has had on Afghanistan’s economy and the livelihoods of its people. Kanni Wignaraja’s report sheds light on the alarming levels of subsistence insecurity and economic decline facing the country. The restrictions on women’s rights, particularly the ban on girls’ education, are a major setback for progress and equality. Urgent international support and advocacy are needed to address these pressing issues and support the Afghan population.

  6. It’s truly heartbreaking to see the devastating impacts of the economic downfall in Afghanistan. The UNDP’s report paints a grim picture of the situation, especially for women and girls. The ban on girls’ education is a major setback, further exacerbating the challenges faced by the population. It’s crucial for international efforts to focus on supporting the most vulnerable communities in Afghanistan during these difficult times.

  7. It’s truly devastating to hear about the dire state of Afghanistan’s economy and the impact it’s having on the population. The data presented by UNDP paints a grim picture of the current situation, especially for vulnerable groups like women and girls. The restrictions imposed by the Taliban are deeply concerning, particularly the ban on girls’ education. The international community must step in to support the Afghan people during these challenging times.

  8. I can’t believe the devastating impact on Afghanistan’s economy and the restrictions on women and girls. The statistics are alarming, and urgent action is needed to address these issues. It’s heartbreaking to see the hardships faced by the Afghan people.

  9. How can the international community help improve the economic situation in Afghanistan and ensure access to education for girls?

    1. To improve the economic situation in Afghanistan and ensure access to education for girls, the international community must prioritize sustainable development projects that empower local communities. Providing targeted support to small and medium enterprises, investing in infrastructure, and promoting vocational training for women and girls are crucial steps towards rebuilding the economy and securing education for all. Collaboration with local stakeholders and implementation of inclusive policies will be key in fostering long-term growth and stability.

  10. The current economic situation in Afghanistan is truly devastating. It is heartbreaking to see that the majority of Afghans are struggling just to meet basic needs. The impact of natural disasters coupled with the economic downfall is truly alarming. The restrictions imposed on women, especially the ban on girls’ education, is a major setback for the progress of the country. The international community needs to step up and provide support to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

  11. It’s disheartening to see the devastating impact of the economic downturn in Afghanistan, especially on the most vulnerable households. The statistics shared by the Director of UNDP paint a grim picture of the current situation. It’s crucial for global efforts to focus on supporting SMEs and farmers to revive the faltering economy and ensure stability for the population.

  12. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the severe impact on Afghanistan’s economy and the restrictions imposed on women and girls. The statistics shared by Ms. Wignaraja truly reflect the dire situation facing the country, and it’s crucial for international support to address these issues and uplift the Afghan population.

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