The year 2014 will be one of major change for Afghanistan, beginning with an economic transition that is expected to be both difficult and painful. The departure of foreign troops by the end of December, as well as a predicted drop in international assistance, marks a turning point for the country.

Afghanistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries, even after 12 years of relative success in a number of sectors including health and education. As the ‘war economy’ ends, the United States hopes to buffer the economic impact that will result from the pull-out of contractors and service providers that have supported military operations within the country since 2001.

The U.S. Agency for International Development recently announced three new United Nations initiatives worth almost $300 million that are aimed at insuring that Afghanistan does not fall deeper into poverty.

The U.N. initiatives include:

  • A program that will give $125 million to Afghanistan’s food and farm sector (the base of its economy,)
  •  A $77 million, four-year program to open Afghanistan up to greater international trade and investment opportunities, including joining the World Trade Organization by 2015,
  • And a program worth almost $100 million that will partner three U.S. universities with 10 Afghan universities and provide students with practical skills to work in both the private and public sectors.

This package of aid initiatives is not the only assistance being offered to the country.

A humanitarian appeal from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as The Strategic Response Plan, claims the number of people in need of access to health services has increased from 3.3 million to 5.4 million. The plan is asking for $406 million to alleviate what they believe is a worsening humanitarian situation.

Although almost $90 billion of aid has been pledged to Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, the country is still in a dire situation. North American Treaty Organization-led international forces are currently debating whether they should remain in Afghanistan, as it is known to be one of the most dangerous countries for aid workers. Last year alone, 80 aid workers were victims of attacks, kidnappings or killings according to the Aid Worker Security Database, which is the largest number of incidents any country has seen in a single year.

Many are frustrated with the Afghan government and the dangerous and unstable conditions that are wracking the nation. Uncertainty is growing among those who are reluctant to continue providing generous aid to the country; it is unknown how much outside help it can expect within the coming years.

Hopefully, these UN initiatives will be enough to push Afghanistan in the right direction after years of war that has ravaged the country.

– Mollie O’Brien

Sources: UNRIC, Reuters
Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

Poverty Prevention
Global poverty can seem to many to be an insurmountable task. However, much progress has already been made to lift people out of poverty. According to The Global Citizen organization, global poverty has effected 1.3 billion individuals, a number which is actually 52% lower than statistics in the 1980s.

Development practitioners recognize that global poverty can be minimized by addressing other areas including reproductive health, HIV prevention, education, women’s empowerment, and gender equality. UNFPA states that poverty is a multidimensional issue that deprives people of education, resources, services, opportunities, and economic opportunities. UNFPA states that investments to address global poverty should “…[empower] individual women and men with education, equal opportunities and the means to determine the number, timing and spacing of their children – [which] could create the conditions to allow the poor to break out of the poverty trap.”

Reproductive health and HIV prevention can both act as poverty prevention tactics. Reproductive health education, family planning resources, and widely accessible contraception can decrease fertility rates by providing families with the knowledge and tools to space out pregnancies. Furthermore, improved healthcare can reduce population growth because families recognize that they do not need to have as many children to ensure that at least 2 of them survive to adulthood.


HIV prevention is also an important poverty prevention tool because  helpful for when men and women know the dangers of HIV, they are able to use protection and are able to prevent the spread of the disease not only from partner to partner, but also from partners to undesired pregnancies and children. By learning how to protect oneself from HIV, individuals are able to prevent untimely deaths as well as preventing the disease to spread within a community, states The ONE organization. By lowering fertility rates through an education in reproductive health and by preventing the spread of HIV through an education in HIV prevention, communities will thrive due to a lower healthier population level.

The third poverty prevention tactic is education. Education is a very important factor in preventing global poverty, for providing an education to young boys and girls will help prevent undesired child marriage as well as early teen pregnancies which can lead to maternal death. An education helps boys and girls obtain the proper knowledge to keep themselves safe, healthy, and helps to plant the seeds of inspiration. Once obtaining an education, these individuals can create sustaining businesses which produce and return economic gains into their communities. By providing an education, individuals are able to thrive and break through the barriers of global poverty by creating strong businesses which will help the economy thrive and will lead to a stable community environment.

The fourth and fifth poverty prevention tactics are women empowerment and gender equality. Women empowerment is a positive prevention tactic because women who are encouraged to attend school and receive an education are more likely to defeat child marriage, are able to marry latter in life, and are able to have less children which lowers population rates. Women who have an education are more likely to work after receiving an education, which boosts the economy and provides a sustainable household for a family. Gender equality offers similar benefits, for if women are able to obtain an education and receive equal pay in employment, both the man and women are able to create a sustainable home for their children. By providing a sustainable environment, the child is able to attend school and is able to receive employment opportunities, continuing this positive cycle.

Through these five poverty prevention tactics, developing countries are able to defeat global poverty and are able to create sustainable economies, healthy environments, and equal opportunities.

– Grace Beal

Sources: Global Citizen, UN FPA, ONE Campaign
Photo: Ambergris Today