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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.

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - World

European Commission pledges around $1 billion in Afghan aid

G20 meeting on Afghanistan via video conference. Photo: Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

During a G20 meeting on Afghanistan on Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a roughly $1 billion aid package to Afghanistan and neighboring countries taking in refugees.

Why it matters: The aid is intended to help avert a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan but does not indicate a legitimization of the Taliban, the European Commission underscored in the press release.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.

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