Sep 9, 2021 - World

UN: Afghanistan "on the brink" of universal poverty

An Afghan girl searches for recylables. Photo: FARSHAD USYAN / AFP

An Afghan girl searches for recylables. Photo: Farshad Usyan/AFP.

Afghanistan is close to universal poverty, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released Thursday.

Why it matters: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan along with the COVID-19 pandemic and severe drought have set up the poverty rate to balloon. As much as 97 percent of Afghans could be below the poverty line by mid-2022, according to the UNDP.

  • The myriad of challenges facing the country "form a crisis that demands urgent action,” UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja said.

By the numbers: UNDP analyzed four possible scenarios that could cause the country's GDP to plummet as much as 13.2%. In the worst-case scenario, the report estimates that poverty could increase by about 25%.

  • 72% of the population currently live in poverty, UNDP reports.

What they're saying: "We are facing a full-on development collapse on top of humanitarian and economic crises,” Wignaraja said.

  • “Half of the population is already in need of humanitarian support. This analysis suggests that we are on course for rapid, catastrophic deterioration in the lives of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people," Wignaraja added.

What's next: The UNDP is proposing an aid package aimed at helping the most vulnerable people and communities in Afghanistan.

  • The 24-month community development program would support "close to nine million vulnerable people" and would prioritize women and girls' rights.
  • It would also include a cash-for-work plan, grants for small and medium enterprises and temporary basic income through monthly cash transfers for children, elderly citizens and the disabled.
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