Gloomy days ahead: 97% in Afghanistan to be poor by 2022, warns UNDP

Every other Afghan citizen needs urgent humanitarian aid amid Taliban takeover

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Monday 13 September 2021
Photo: @UNReliefChief / Twitter__

Ninety-seven per cent of Afghanistan’s population might fall below the poverty line by mid-2022, unless a response to the country’s political and economic crises was urgently launched, a recent report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said.

The study analysed four potential scenarios using a computable general equilibrium model based on historical data using an economy-wide model for Afghanistan and its main trading partners.

More than 18 million of Afghanistan’s 39 million people were estimated to be in urgent need of humanitarian aid, since the August 15 power shift, warned the study. In the case of a high-intensity crisis, the real gross domestic product can contract by as much as 13.2 per cent, leading to an increase in the poverty rate of up to 25 percentage points, the study said.

Overall, poverty impact estimates range between an increase of seven and 25 percentage points from a baseline poverty rate of 72 per cent in 2020, according to the study.

Afghanistan has already faced a severe drought. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Herat, Badghis and Ghor provinces are under extreme drought conditions and Farah is under severe drought conditions.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had recently noted that 30 per cent of the country was exposed to severe drought, 50 per cent to serious drought and another 20 per cent to moderate drought.

According to the study, in  2020,  domestic  revenue  fell  by  16  per cent,  compared  to  the  previous  year  whereas  spending  rose  to  respond  to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In addition to a prolonged drought and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afghanistan was contending with the upheaval caused by the current political transition, the study said.

The need for balanced humanitarian and developmental support is urgent. The UNDP has proposed a package of interventions designed to help improve the immediate living conditions of the most vulnerable people and communities.

The package focuses on essential services, local livelihoods, basic income and small infrastructure. The proposed Local Area-Based Programme designed by UNDP, will be implemented directly with local networks of community groups, non-profits and small businesses, benefiting close to nine million people.

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