Wednesday, February 23, 2005
A Long Road Ahead for Afghanistan
Although the most important findings of the UNDP Report on Afghanistan have been widely reported, a look at the first three chapters of the full report (available in pdf form here) reveals the following devastating assessments, more than three years after the fall of the Taliban:
In Kabul, 50,000 Afghan women are widows and heads of households. Sixty-five per cent surveyed by the organization Physicians for Human Rights were found to have suicidal tendencies and 16 per cent have actually attempted suicide.
A relatively new but rapidly growing threat to the well-being of Afghan children is abduction and trafficking.
Since the fall of the Taliban, over 2.5 million Afghans have returned from Pakistan (1.8 million) and Iran (600,000), yet an estimated 3.4 million Afghans remain outside their country.
Today, whereas education indicators have improved and are expected to continue to do so, the health situation has not changed much. Moreover, the remarkable GDP recovery of the past couple of years and the projected robust growth over the next few years may certainly improve Afghanistan’s HDI ranking, but may not help the overall human security situation. One reason is the unequal distribution of wealth and poverty. While reliable data is not available, anecdotal evidence points to the facts that the growth has done little to alleviate poverty and has worsened inequality.
There are almost no rural, schoolage girls attending school in the south and south central regions of Afghanistan. The primary reasons that both boys and girls in rural areas are not in school countrywide are the lack and distance of facilities.
Children under five with malnutrition: 10% acute, 50% chronic.
Under fives dying from diarrhoea: 85,000 per year
About half of children under five years of age are stunted due to chronic malnutrition.
Households with No Safe Drinking Water from Pumps or Protected Springs: 60%
Provinces with obstetric care: 11 out of 31
Probability at Birth of Not Surviving to Age 40: 46%