Poverty rising in Afghanistan amid prolonged conflicts, drought

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-22 13:58:12|Editor: mmm
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Afghan children play at a displaced camp in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, Oct. 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Sayed Mominzadah)

KABUL, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Harsh poverty and rising unemployment have spread across Afghanistan as the prolonged conflicts and fighting in the country, as well as drought and a decline in agribusiness, added to the miseries of the war-weary Afghans.

More than 2,790 civilians were killed and over 5,250 others injured in conflict-related incidents in the first nine months of the year in the war-torn country, according to figures released by the United Nations mission in the country.

Almost 54 percent of the country's population of more than 30 million currently live below the poverty line, according to the latest information provided by the Central Statistic Organization of Afghanistan earlier this year.

Afghan Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) Nasir Ahmad Durrani said recently that the government plans to provide support for the most needy families, but said the government alone could not fully tackle the nation's poverty problem.

Durrani said the ministry was working on six specific issues to help with food security in the land-locked country.

"For the eradication of famine, lasting food safety and reaching Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SGD2) targets, the MAIL plans involves direct links to food safety resources, such as animal husbandry or in the area of increasing the yields of wheat, rice and other agricultural harvests."

"This, as well as raising the standard of fruit and vegetable products," added the minister.

According to Durrani, the growth of agricultural products, supporting farmers, raising the agricultural and husbandry product quality, rising the value of agriculture and livestock chain products, and reviewing current agricultural policy in light of climate change, are among the factors and work that has been done by the ministry.

The ministry has distributed up to 119 tons of wheat among the needy and vulnerable people in 25 of the country's 34 provinces, he said.

Some 60 tons of wheat has also been made available to the World Food Program (WFP) to be changed into flour, by adding some needed ingredients in cooperation with the local and international aid agencies to be distributed among 1.4 million needy people, said Durrani.

The latest food distribution plans come as up to 20 of the country's 34 provinces have been affected by the drought, and Afghan officials have predicted that around 3 million people will be in need of aid until the end of this year.

In another effort to help the needy people, the United Nations has allocated 34.6 million U.S. dollars to support drought-affected Afghans, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.

The fund will help seven national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 15 international NGOs and four UN agencies "to distribute food and seeds, maintain primary health services, provide emergency shelters, safe drinking water, improve hygiene and sanitation, treat severe malnutrition, and help farmers protect their livestock," the OCHA said.

The Afghan unemployment rate has risen 2 percent to 27 percent in the last Afghan year, which ended on March 20 this year, with the number of jobless people keeping growing while private investment continues to decline.

Afghans hope that the just-concluded parliamentary election and the following presidential election which is slated for early next year will bring positive changes to the living conditions of poor people.

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