SEATTLE, Washington — Afghanistan is a landlocked country with mountainous terrain. Its tough terrains and frequent natural disasters present a challenging landscape that has only been made worse by the myriad of upheavals the country has experienced in modern history. In the midst of terrorism, warfare and instability, Afghanistan has been mired in poverty. This article will highlight 15 facts about poverty in Afghanistan.
15 Facts about Poverty in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan has GDP per capita of $1,951, compared to the world average of $17,000. GDP per capita reflects the standard of living in a country. Such a low value places Afghanistan among the poorest countries in the world.
- There are 31.6 million people in the country, many of whom struggle to find the basic necessities of life. Unfortunately, 54.4 percent of the population is living below the poverty line. Socioeconomic insecurity coupled with political instability makes it harder for people to rise out of poverty.
- Majority of the Afghan workers earn less than $3.10 a day, a total of 98.2 percent. No other country has such a large proportion of its working population making so little.
- The unemployment rate in the country is about 25 percent. Due to a lack of industry and market expansion, employment opportunities are few and job security is low. About 80 percent of those who are employed are susceptible to loss of work.
- Afghanistan has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world at 64 years. The world average is 72.2 years.
- Afghanistan’s geography consists of rugged mountain and remote terrains. There are limited freshwater sources and inadequate supplies of potable water. More than two-thirds of the country’s population lacks clean drinking water.
- The average age of the population is about 17 years. Children between the ages 7 and 14 make up about half of the population. Which means almost half of the Afghan population should be in school. However, about 3.7 million Afghan children are out of school.
- Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world with 108.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Many newborns do not receive proper immunization. Furthermore, many children fall ill from malnutrition and unsanitary living conditions.
- Afghanistan’s health system is among the poorest in the world. For every 1,000 people in Afghanistan, there are only 0.28 medical doctors available and only 0.5 hospital beds.
- The population literacy rate is 38.2 percent. There exists an enormous gender disparity. While the literacy rate among men is about 52 percent, among women it is only 24 percent. Among the children who are unable to go to school, 60 percent are girls.
- As of December 2018, 2.5 million people were internally displaced in Afghanistan due to armed conflicts and natural disasters. Displacement is a survival strategy under severe circumstances. However, coupled with the topography of the land, it makes it difficult for the families to resettle and thrive.
- Between 2013 to 2018, food insecurity increased up to 44.6 percent from 30.1 percent. Many provinces in Afghanistan suffer from droughts. To add to the problem, population growth has outpaced economic growth.
- Acute malnutrition affects at least 2 million children from birth to five years of age. More serious forms affect the lives of at least 600,000 children. Without proper treatment, malnutrition can be fatal for children.
- Almost half of the children between one and two years of age are not vaccinated. Due to limited awareness, cultural barriers and low literacy rate, many parents fail to immunize their children. Many also struggle to find proper facilities in their neighborhoods.
- According to a UNICEF report, almost half of the children in Afghanistan may not achieve their full mental or physical development. Many children suffer from undernourishment. Many families are not able to see medical facilities due to poverty, displacement or lack of access.
While these 15 facts about poverty in Afghanistan give a glimpse of deprivation in the country, Afghanistan is much more than its scarceness. A population comprised of a majority of children and youth has boundless potentials. This generation has seen atrocities and injustices at unparalleled levels and has still persisted. It is now up to communities around the world to pledge the aid that these people need. With a promise of humanitarian efforts, welfare projects and unwavering commitment, Afghans can create a better future for the country and its brave people.
– Fariha Khalid