Monday, March 16, 2015

Dealing with Poverty is Another Priority for the New Govt. in Kabul

By: Moheb Arsalan J.

With President Ashraf Ghani’s government finally taking hold in Kabul, it also needs to focus on dealing with Afghanistan real socioeconomic problem: poverty.

Poverty has been a serious issue in Afghan society; a larger number of Afghans live either in poverty or are at risk of falling into poverty if there was a crisis.  This is the case despite Afghanistan having ample natural resources.  According to the World Bank, poverty rate in Afghanistan is at staggering 38 percent.  This figure has remained unchanged since 2008 despite a large sum of development aid injected to its economy.  

The crippling poverty has vicious impact on Afghanistan.  It has been a leading contributor to violence, political instability and radicalization especially in the rural parts of the country where majority of the Afghan people live.  In the rural areas, the Afghans especially the youth live in dismal poverty having minimum access to inadequate education or employment opportunities.  Such circumstances flourish ripe conditions for poverty to prosper causing further grievances in Afghan society. 

Poverty has ruled Afghan society for too long now and it continues to cause troubles due to the nonexistence of a strong political will both in the previous Afghan leadership and within the international development partners active in Afghanistan, non existences of a cohesive human development plan and an effective strategy to fight poverty or focus on effective and inclusive economic development. 

Now that President Ashraf Ghani is in charge and has a wealth of both experience and education in poverty eradication and human development programs, his government should prioritize eradicating poverty and related serious underdevelopment problem in Afghanistan.  

This is no easy task but it is possible if there is a sincere political will to eliminate corruption, boost human capital and capacity, attract investment, use international development aid more effectively, better utilize Afghanistan's natural resources, foster trade and create a conducive environment for the private sector development.  All  of these efforts can contribute to better public and private sectors that can provide jobs and in turn alleviate poverty in Afghanistan.

President Ghani’s unity government should have and implement that political will and enable Afghans to break from the vicious cycle of poverty & violence and instead live in prosperity.  If President Ghani can do this, he would be remembered as the savior for a country that has been stuck in vicious poverty for too long now. 

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