Two-Thirds of Afghan Households Struggle to Meet Basic Needs: World Bank

The survey highlighted the welfare, education, labor force and health conditions in Afghanistan.

The World Bank published a report based on the second round of a survey conducted from June to August 2022 (the first round was completed and reported on in 2021) to assess changes in basic living conditions. The report said that two-thirds of households in Afghanistan find it difficult to meet basic food and non-food needs.

The survey highlighted the welfare, education, labor force and health conditions in Afghanistan.

According to the World Bank, rising food prices and the persistent effects of last year’s drought are highlighted among the main reasons for limited access to and affordability of food. “This may signal more significant deprivation in the coming winter months, usually considered the hungry season,” the World Bank warned.

“There is an urgent need for the interim Taliban administration to take tangible steps to improve food security and livelihoods, maintain basic health services, and ensure that the private sector can play a role to create jobs for the many Afghans, particularly young people, who are unemployed. Without this, the welfare of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, remains at risk,” said Melinda Good, World Bank country director for Afghanistan.

The economists said that restrictions on the banking system and lack of investment in the country has intensified economic challenges.

Nadirshah is one of the millions of vulnerable Afghans struggling with economic challenges.

“It is winter. We don’t have coal and grain. When it is nighttime we bring a gas stove and put it under the blanket to get a bit warm,” he said.

“When we eat breakfast, we worry about how to find our lunch and dinner,” said Fazila, Nader’s wife.

The report indicates that the majority (82 percent) of respondents say that if they were provided AFN 1,000 (about USD 10) per month, they would use it to purchase food.

There has been a slight uptick in private sector salaried work, and public sector employment remains small, reflecting a smaller government footprint, the report said, adding that most household heads are self-employed, the report said.

Many women who previously dedicated their time to housework are now working on the farm or at home, doing piecework, sewing, and repairing clothes, the report said. “One exception is teachers, two-thirds of whom have retained their employment.”

The economists said that the sanctions and restrictions on Afghanistan banking system have caused a deteriorated in the economic conditions in the country.

“Due to economic sanctions and restrictions on banks, the economic conditions have deteriorated and are driving into a deep crisis,” said Abdul Naseer Rishtia, an economist.

“The suspension of international aid that was supporting between 45 to 50 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, and the suspension of around $7 to $8 billion entering Afghanistan—this also caused a surge in unemployment,” said Seyar Qureshi, an economist.

The World Bank’s survey about girls’ and boys’ schools shows that the drop in secondary school enrollment for both girls and boys is aligned with an increase in the proportion of teenage Afghans joining the labor force. “Girls who drop out of school do not seem to remain idle, as nearly half of them become economically active, most working from home or on the family farm,” the survey shows.

According to the survey, the need for medical care has increased with almost nine out of ten households reporting at least one member requiring medical attention over the month preceding the survey. “Medical services remain available, with only 8 percent of individuals who needed health services reporting having been unable to access them,” it said.

Two-Thirds of Afghan Households Struggle to Meet Basic Needs: World Bank