Beyond the War: Poverty in Afghanistan
The war in Afghanistan — preceded by decades of
conflict — has had a profound impact on many families. Insurgent attacks,
complex international governance and enduring poverty have made life in
Afghanistan particularly challenging for millions of children. Many families who
fled the country in earlier years have gradually returned to Afghanistan, but
are greeted with poor infrastructure, including a lack of health-care
facilities, substandard sanitation and not enough clean water.
Data from the World Bank
suggests that 36
percent of Afghans live in poverty — more than 9 million people — but that
figure may be higher because of a lack of representative data from Afghan
households. Families at risk of falling below poverty guidelines face an
uncertain future, as many factors could affect their ability to provide for
According to the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), provinces
in the northeast have been hit particularly hard by the effects of the war.
Poverty rates range between 55 and 75 percent in areas such as Badakhshan,
Kunar, Balkh and Paktika, whereas in southeastern provinces like Helmand and
Farah, the situation is less severe.
Good sanitation and
clean water are in short supply in many parts of Afghanistan. Less than half the
population has access to clean drinking water, and just 37 percent use healthy
sanitation facilities. As a result, Afghanistan has the second-highest infant
mortality rate in the world, with approximately 199 deaths per 1,000 live
births, 134 of which happen during the first year after birth.
Turning Things Around
Through the years, the
conflict in Afghanistan has displaced thousands of people. Although the country
remains in transition, the last decade has seen a steady stream of returnees,
who likely find their former home unrecognizable after three decades of war. For
some returning Afghans like Malik Nader, a father of eight who fled his homeland
when the former Soviet Union invaded during the 1980s, the difficulties were
tremendous. However, thanks to the support of ChildFund and our local partners,
and his children face a brighter future.
In 2012, ChildFund built
seven solar-powered water collection systems in the village of Sheikh Mesri as
part of the RESTART program, a collection of services designed to help meet the
needs of the community's youngest children for education, nutrition, water and
To help ChildFund
continue to improve the lives of Afghan children and their families, please
consider making a donation to our Children's
Greatest Needs fund.