Afghanistan’s poverty rate rises as economy suffers



Afghanistan's poverty rate has worsened sharply over the past five years as the economy has stalled and the Taliban insurgency has spread, with more than half the population living on less than a dollar a day, a survey published on Monday showed.

The Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS), a joint study by the European Union and Afghanistan's Central Statistics Organization, showed the national poverty rate rising to 55 percent in 2016-17 from 38 percent in 2011-12.

"The high poverty rates represent the combined effect of stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures, and a deteriorating security situation," Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank director for Afghanistan, said in a commentary about the survey.

The report underlines the problems facing the Western-backed government in Kabul which needs economic growth to help replace foreign aid and to provide jobs for its fast-growing population.

As international forces have withdrawn and the billions of dollars in foreign aid that once poured in have dried up, Afghanistan's battered agricultural economy has struggled.

More than a decade and a half after a US-led campaign toppled the Taliban in 2001, the poverty line was defined as an income of 70 afghanis, or about one US dollar, per person a day.

The ALCS report comes at a time when 20 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces are suffering from serious drought and international aid agencies are seeking millions of dollars to help them.

Food insecurity has risen from 30.1 percent to 44.6 percent in five years, meaning many more people are forced to sell their land, take their children out of school to work or depend on food aid, the survey found.


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