SEATTLE, Washington — Afghanistan is a landlocked country with mountainous terrains. 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. Due to terrorism, warfare and instability, Afghanistan remains a land mired in poverty. This article will highlight 15 facts about poverty in Afghanistan.
15 Facts about Poverty in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan’s 2019 GDP per capita stands at $2,152 compared to the world average of $17,598. According to Investopedia, GDP per capita “is a financial metric that breaks down a country’s economic output per person and is calculated by dividing the [gross domestic product]of a nation by its population.” This low value places Afghanistan among the most impoverished countries in the world.
- There are 38 million people in the country in 2019, many of whom struggle to secure the basic necessities of life. Unfortunately, 54.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2016. Socioeconomic insecurity coupled with political instability makes it harder for people to rise out of poverty.
- The percentage of Afghans surviving on less than $3.20 in terms of purchasing power parity stands at 66.3% in 2019 in comparison to almost 92% in 2000.
- Organizations estimate that, in 2018, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan stood between 25% and 30%. Due to a lack of industry and market expansion, employment opportunities are few and job security is low.
- Afghanistan has a life expectancy rate of 65 years in 2019. In comparison, the world average is 72.7 years.
- There are limited freshwater sources due to frequent droughts in Afghanistan and the nation also lacks adequate water infrastructure. In 2018, just over two-thirds of Afghans could access safe and clean drinking water.
- The World Population Review indicates that Afghanistan has a significant young population, “with a median age of 18.4 years.” Despite a large portion of young people in the country, in 2018, 3.7 million children between the ages of 7 and 17 were not attending school.
- Afghanistan has a significantly high infant mortality rate at 47 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019. Many young children do not receive the necessary child immunizations. Furthermore, many children fall ill from malnutrition and unsanitary living conditions.
- Afghanistan’s health system is among the poorest in the world. According to data from 2016, for every 1,000 people in Afghanistan, there are only 0.28 medical doctors available. Furthermore, according to data from 2017, the nation has only 0.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people.
- The population literacy rate stood at 34.8% between 2016 and 2017. There exists an enormous gender disparity in education. While the 2011 literacy rate among males older than 15 was about 45.4%, among females of the same age group the literacy rate was only 17%. Among the children who are unable to go to school, 60% 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, displacement makes it difficult for the families to resettle and thrive.
- Between 2013 and 2018, food insecurity increased up to 44.6% from 30.1%. 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 5 years of age. Of this number of children, 600,000 endure severe acute malnutrition. Without proper treatment, these extreme cases of malnutrition can be fatal for children.
- About “one in three” Afghan children younger than 1 did not receive any routine immunizations in 2017. Due to limited awareness, cultural barriers and low literacy rates, many parents fail to immunize their children. Many families also struggle to access health care centers.
- According to a 2017 UNICEF report, “two of every five [Afghan] children” suffer from stunting and 1.2 million Afghan children endure malnourishment, which significantly impacts children’s physical and mental development and ability “to reach their full potential.” Many families are unable to utilize health care services at 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 potential. This generation has seen atrocities and injustices at unparalleled levels yet still persists. It is now up to communities around the world to pledge the aid that Afghan people need. With a promise of humanitarian efforts, welfare projects and unwavering commitment, the international community can create a better future for the country and its brave people.
– Fariha Khalid