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Impact of Community-Led Development
If the world hopes to succeed in accomplishing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, people in power should listen to those who have successfully strengthened communities by putting the locals first. The Community-Led Development Movement (CLD Movement) advocates for allowing communities to decide their growth: “We believe that every human person has a fundamental right to voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and to equal and affordable access to the fundamental public services through which they can achieve their full potential.”

This statement sums up the way many people who work for the CLD movement or other NGOs feel towards community-first building. The group works towards the following goals: voice and agency for marginalized groups, adequate community finance, good local governance, quality public services and eventual self-resilience.

The following cases are examples of the impact of community-led development and how it has helped jumpstart new growth in communities.

Mercy Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan

The non-governmental organization (NGO) group Mercy Corps developed the research program, Learning for Effective Aid Policy and Practice (LEAPP) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal of LEAPP was to implement community-led projects that bring the community and its leaders together in a positive fashion. Through this action, Mercy Corps hoped to create stability and trust between the community and its leaders as well.

On top of these accomplishments, the program also invested in citizens which then led to increased incentives in them to continue to better their communities. Through educating communities on how the future could improve after working with NGOs and community leaders, the Afghan communities’ optimism increased from 14 percent to 65 percent. In fact, the level of satisfaction of new infrastructure ranged from mid-fifties to mid-seventies.

On top of these facts, the jobs increased by 26 percent, satisfication with job growth grew to 40 percent and acessibility to education increased by 43 percent. The LEAPP program in Afghanistan and Iraq strived to give assistance beyond military intervention — the common adi protocol of the past.

Various NGOs in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has seen some of the best operations of community-first building. Several NGOs have worked with low income communities across the country to bring the nation better food, nutrients, jobs and opportunities for education. With NGOs like Grameen Danone, BRAC and the Poverty Eradication Program, several communities have felt a rise in income, confidence and optimism. A more specific inquiry into NGOs focusing on Bangladesh’s communities follows the work of Concern Bangladesh.

Concern Bangladesh is a subsector of Concern Worldwide and in 2017, the NGO responded to Cyclone Mora as well as the influx of 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The organization combatted poverty by improving livelihoods, increasing access to basic rights and giving entitlements to the lowest-income communities. Concern Bangladesh worked to improve slums, provide homes for squatters and integrated multisector services to over 10,000 people in 2017.

The group did a specific project on the Char region of Bangladesh between 2012 and 2016. The report claims that over 120,000 people directly or indirectly benefitted from the work done in the region by Concern Bangladesh. People in the Char community worked with Concern Bangladesh, which not only provided themselves with jobs, but also helped create jobs for others in the community.

A More Stable Future

After researching and reporting on the impact of community-led development in different countries around the world, John Conrood from the Huffington Post said, “women and men have a fundamental right to be the authors of their own development, and that right must start in the communities where they live and work.”

Through giving people power over their growth at the ground level, there is more motivation, influence and trust in the rest of the system that then leads to a more stable future for everyone involved.

Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Afghanistan facts
In recent memory, people often think of Afghanistan as the nation of the Taliban, who provided sanctuary to terrorists like Osama bin Laden. However, they do not tend to think about how a country falls into the grip of such extremism. Often, when poverty is widespread, terrorism and instability take hold. Poverty in Afghanistan has been a serious problem for nearly three decades, starting with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

This instability can make poverty alleviation an uphill battle. According to the World Bank’s 2017 Poverty Status Update Report regarding socioeconomic progress in Afghanistan, the 15 years of growth that the country has seen are now jeopardized by a recent rise in insecurity. The World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan, Shubham Chaudhuri, explains that with poverty rising from 36 to 39 percent of the Afghan population, there need to be reinforcements to guarantee that economic growth reaches Afghan families. For further information about the living conditions of the Afghan people, here are 10 facts about poverty in Afghanistan.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Afghanistan

  1. According to Aryana Aid, poverty in Afghanistan stems from two factors: “food insecurity and the lack of a social security net.” As a result, 50 percent of Afghan children are stunted and 20 percent of Afghan women of child-bearing age are underweight.
  2. Food is distributed unequally throughout the country, going mainly to areas where there is heavy fighting. This puts more strain on people in other areas and contributes to the ongoing food insecurity,
  3. Furthermore, half of the people living in both rural and urban regions have no access to clean water.
  4. The government’s strategy to address food insecurity has been to focus on adequate calorie intake, but this has left people susceptible to food price shocks, meaning they lower the quality of their diet in order to afford food.
  5. The war in Afghanistan is one of the main contributing factors to poverty; 55 to 75 percent of the Afghan population is living in poverty in the worst-hit regions, whereas as other regions have lower poverty rates.
  6. According to Center for Strategic and Regional Studies, the poverty rate in Afghanistan has remained stagnant since the outbreak of war in 2001, even with increases in foreign aid.
  7. Only 28 percent of the entire Afghan population 15 years and older is literate.
  8. Because of the lack of water and other necessities, Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world.
  9. Approximately 70,792 Afghan families are taking refuge in unclean makeshift camps; 25 percent of those families have been living there for more than ten years.
  10. Unemployment is a significant challenge in relocating these and other internally displaced people, as they are reluctant to return to rural areas where there are no jobs available.

To help bring some relief to these issues, Aryana Aid has been providing food packages to the people of Afghanistan since 2009. In early 2018, USAID’s Office of Food For Peace provided $25 million to the World Food Programme; an estimated 547,000 malnourished Afghan people were provided with emergency aid from local and regional marketplaces.

The World Bank projected economic growth for Afghanistan in 2017, by 2.6 percent compared to 2.2 percent in 2016. The progression is predicted to continue in 2018 with a 3.2 percent growth, which will help cure the many problems listed on the top 10 facts about poverty in Afghanistan.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr

India’s fight against Polio
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease spread through poliovirus. Since the early twentieth century, polio has been widespread in many countries, causing paralysis in thousands of children every year. With the help of various nonprofit organizations and the Global Polio Eradication initiative, the disease is now narrowed down to a handful of nations.

In 2014, India was certified as a polio-free country, leaving Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan on the list for polio eradication programs. India’s fight against polio is a remarkable achievement because of the various challenges the country faced. Nicole Deutsch, the head of polio operations for UNICEF in India, called it a “monumental milestone.”

Polio: Cause and Prevention

Poliovirus is highly contagious, infecting only humans and residing in the throat and intestine of the infected person. It spreads through feces and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.

The virus affects the brain and spinal cord of the infected person, causing paralysis which cannot be cured. Immunization through inactivated poliovirus vaccine and oral poliovirus vaccine are the only possible methods to fight against the virus. In the case of India, it was the second option which was administered.

India’s Fight Against Polio: the Challenges Faced

India’s fight against polio faced unique challenges, such as its huge population density and an increased birth rate. The number of people living in impoverished conditions with poor sanitation is huge, making them vulnerable to the polio disease.

Lack of education and prejudice among certain sects of the population also hindered the immunization process. Other challenges faced were the unstable healthcare system, which does not support people from all levels of society, and the geographically-dispersed inaccessible terrain, which made the immunization process difficult.

Overcoming these Challenges

Overcoming the challenges of polio eradication was possible due to the combined help provided by UNICEF, WHO, Rotary Club, the Indian government and millions of frontline workers. They took micro-planning strategies to address the challenges faced by the socially, economically, culturally and linguistically diverse country that is India.

India began its oral polio vaccine program in 1978 but it did not gain momentum until 1994, when the local government of New Delhi successfully conducted a mass immunization program for children in the region. From the year 1995, the government of India began organizing National Immunization Day, and in 1997, the first National Polio Surveillance Project was established.

Other initiatives taken include:

  • Involving almost 7,000 trained community mobilizers who went door-to-door, educating people in highly resistant regions.
  • Engaging 2.3 million vaccine administrators who immunized almost 172 million children.
  • The government running advertisements on print media, television and radio.
  • Enlisting famous Bollywood and sports celebrities to create awareness among common people.
  • Involving religious and community leaders in encouraging parents to vaccinate their children.

Inspiration for Other Countries

In 2009, almost 741 polio cases were reported in India, which dropped down to 42 in 2010, until the last case was reported in 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal. This unprecedented success is an inspiration for countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, where the disease is still looming at large.

India’s fight against polio has set an example in the world that the country can be proud of, but the fight is not over yet. Although India has been declared polio-free by the WHO, it is of the utmost importance that the nation continue to assist other nations still facing the polio epidemic.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

lowest life expectancy in the world
Out of the established 224 countries on the earth, these are the bottom five with the lowest life expectancy in the world. The countries listed below range from an average lifespan of 52.1 years to 50.6 years old.

Five Countries with the Lowest Life Expectancy in the World

  1. Swaziland
    Swaziland has the fifth-lowest life expectancy in the world at an average of 52.1 years. Swaziland is the only country on this list with men living, on average, longer than women. As of 2016, the top two reasons for deaths were HIV/AIDS and lower respiratory infections.However, Swaziland is one of the countries receiving help from USAID. One of the top priorities of USAID is fighting against HIV/AIDS by preventing sexual transmission, increasing the prevalence of male circumcision, improving institutions and training, lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS and decentralizing care and treatment. With USAID’s continued assistance and its partnerships within the African nation, there is a chance that the average lifespan in Swaziland can increase above 52.1 years.
  1. Gabon
    With an average lifespan of 52.1 years, Gabon is ranked number four for the lowest life expectancy in the world. Despite being rated so low, Gabon has a robust oil-dependent economy, making it a middle-income country.Due to this income status, it is ineligible for relief programs such as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. This ineligibility may be why HIV/AIDS and heart disease are the top two reasons for death in the country, contributing to the low life expectancy.
  1. Afghanistan
    The only country not in Africa, Afghanistan is ranked at number three with an average lifespan of 51.7 years. This ranking may increase over time through help from USAID.In Afghanistan, USAID is working to promote health and education, both critical factors in raising life expectancies. USAID and its partners are making substantial strides to improve the healthcare for Afghans. For example, in 2016, the organization began a project to help reduce malnutrition and increase access to safe water and sanitation.USAID is also working toward making essential health services available and improving the quality and quantity of medicines. These resources, once available to Afghans, grant the nation a high potential to no longer be one of the countries with the lowest life expectancy in the world.
  1. Guinea-Bissau
    The second-to-last country with the lowest life expectancy in the world is Guinea-Bissau, averaging about 51 years of life. Aid for Africa is working in Guinea-Bissau with programs that help improve health and education, create businesses and protect wildlife.Another program through Aid for Africa, called Tostan, works by using local languages and traditions to promote democracy, problem-solving, human rights, hygiene and health. Through this program, successful countries have become more prosperous as well as healthier. With the continued implementation of programs such as these, Guinea-Bissau could improve its quantity of life.
  1. Chad
    Chad has the lowest life expectancy in the world at an average lifespan of 50.6 years. The life expectancy in this nation is so low because it has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality and high infant mortality as well.USAID has several programs to help those living in Chad. USAID and the U.N. World Food Programme are working together to distribute food and make sure access to food is readily available all over the country.Starting in 2018, programs such as In-Kind Food Aid, Local and Regional Food Procurement, Cash Transfers for Food and Food Vouchers all will be funded to help citizens. With these various programs helping improve health and nutrition, sources are working with Chad to increase the average lifespan.

World life expectancy continues to increase on the whole, but these five countries are still lagging behind. In order to increase the longevity and potential of their citizens’ lives, they will require targeted aid and a focus on infrastructure and healthcare.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to AfghanistanThe Global Humanitarian Assistance Report for 2017 stated that Afghanistan has 8.9 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is important because it is a country with multiple crises, including internal and international conflict and violence, refugees who still remain in neighboring countries and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, avalanches and sandstorms.

Afghanistan ranked in the top 10 countries in need of humanitarian aid from 1999 until 2015, when it dropped to 13th. In 2016, there were roughly 1.6 million people displaced within Afghanistan. Crises are prevalent in the country and the effects are apparent among the citizens. Children face some of the toughest obstacles in survival, and the government struggles to provide the basic needs of clean water, electricity, safe roads and education.

With the increased need for humanitarian aid, the U.N. Secretary-General’s report at the World Humanitarian Summit called for an adjustment of financing to the countries most in need. Financing tools are being re-evaluated to fit the crises and breaking away from the old short-term grant-based funding. This change acknowledges that natural disasters require different financing than conflicts, such as climate financing, risk reduction and risk transfer. Conflict financing is still limited, but the World Bank, the U.N. Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are looking to broaden the financing scope to enable better aid to countries in need.

Several foundations are also working to downsize this crisis impact within Afghanistan. Save the Children is an organization giving children access to literacy programs, building strong curriculums and training teachers for both preschool age and secondary school children. Further advances have been made in efforts to employ parents of children to work on projects to better develop the community with local reservoirs, agriculture canals and other drought-related projects.

The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department was founded in 1994 in order to provide aid for the strictly humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality. This aid continues for conflict and disaster-ridden communities, providing emergency medical, food, clean water, shelter, protection, sanitation and hygiene. This organization is providing for the basic needs and working to restore access to education to children in the process.

In 2017, the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department planned to allocate €25.5 million, but because of the growing displacements of citizens, it grew to €30.5 million. A main priority is support for refugees to return from Pakistan and Iran.

The humanitarian aid to Afghanistan continues with the International Rescue Committee, which started in 1988 in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion. This organization continued providing aid throughout the rule of the Taliban and now works with thousands of villages, employing many Afghans in the IRC staff. This organization teaches communities to take action in their own projects for development, provides learning spaces in rural locations, provides tents, water, sanitation and basic needs to those displaced and works to find employment for people. These efforts are crucial to enable progress in Afghanistan.

Much aid is needed within Afghanistan due to crises stemming from multiple sources, but international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is being addressed. Countries, smaller foundations and organizations along with individuals are seeking to make an impact in the nation.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr

5 Active Development Projects in AfghanistanThe World Bank Group is currently providing funding for 49 active development projects in Afghanistan. These projects are working to address the full spectrum of needs of the Afghan people. Here are five development projects in Afghanistan currently underway.

  1. Trans-Hindukush Road Connectivity Project. The Hindukush Mountain range spreads across a vast piece of central Asia, including much of eastern Afghanistan. Travel throughout this region is limited and road conditions are generally poor. This project will provide aid to the Afghan government to rebuild and maintain roads spanning the Hindukush mountain region. Improved transportation infrastructure will bring economic growth as well as increased access to resources for people living in remote areas. The project started in 2015 and will come to a close in 2022 and The World Bank group has pledged a loan of $250 million.
  2. Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program. This project came about when the Afghani government accepted a loan of $482.3 million in a plan to enact seven new development projects to combat the growing poverty crisis. The Women’s Economic Empowerment National Priority Program aims to ensure better access to economic opportunities and rights for women.
  3. Urban Development Support Project. The Urban Development Support Project was implemented to strengthen urban policymaking and development on both the national and provincial level. The project aims to improve city planning capabilities, census and data management and urban institution development and accountability. The project began this year and cost $20 million in funding; completion is projected for 2020.
  4. Herat Electrification Project. A small province in western Afghanistan, people in the Heratprovince have limited access to electricity. This project aims to provide homes and businesses in this region with a sustainable source of power. The World Bank group plans to accomplish this by expanding the electrical grid in the region. In areas which are further removed from electrical grid access, solar panels are being implemented to supply power to those who need it. The project began in 2017 and will hopefully be complete by 2022. The total cost of the project is $60 million, which was loaned to the Afghani government by The World Bank Group.
  5. Afghanistan Strategic Grain Reserve Project. This project was started in 2017 and aims to create a reliable stockpile of grain in hopes that in the event of an emergency there will be a safety net of food security. The project has an estimated total cost of $30 million and is hoped to be completed by 2022.

Development projects in Afghanistan such as these are radically improving the quality of life in Afghanistan, however, they only begin to scratch the surface of the larger web of issues preventing Afghanistan from becoming a fully developed country. Cooperation between the World Bank Group and the Afghan government has set the stage for Afghanistan to move closer and closer to development as time moves on.

– Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr

 

Women's empowerment in AfghanistanIn the last 50 years, women were among the most affected by the different conflicts taking place in Afghanistan, especially the oppression of the Islamic Taliban. Indeed, the status of women in Afghanistan changed after having their fundamental rights exploited under Taliban rule.

However, despite the significant barriers still faced by Afghan women, there have been notable improvements in women’s empowerment politically, economically and socially. Empowering women also means eradicating any form of violence, discrimination and harassment against women, which can be done by changing the sexist mindsets prevailing in the region.

In the general sense of women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, some of the achievements include a national constitution guaranteeing women’s equal rights, the adoption of the National Plan of Advancement of Women of Afghanistan 2008-2018 and the development of civil society organizations working to improve women’s rights.

Thirty years of war and limited literacy have produced a lack of political knowledge and experience for Afghan women, but organizations such as the Asia Foundation provided civic and voter education to all those women and encouraged them to participate actively in political life. This approach ended up being highly successful, as 400 women contested the 2010 parliamentary elections, and became for the first time election observers in all 34 provinces in Afghanistan.

As of today, 27.7 percent of seats in Parliament are held by women, which is the largest percentage of women in power in Afghan history. Afghanistan has also become one of the rare South Asian countries to implement a National Action Plan that includes U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, which is a resolution promoting women in leadership and peace-building positions.

In terms of economic women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, there are still some areas to work on, such as better access to jobs around the region, especially in rural areas; a more effective financial sector providing services tailored to all women’s needs and a stronger business climate helping women start their own businesses. Economic empowerment could be significant for those women, as it would enable them to make their own decisions and use the resources given to them to benefit their economic standing.

In terms of labor rights, the labor force has welcomed an increasing percentage of women, reaching 19 percent in 2016. However, instances of discrimination, harassment and violence have been experienced by many women in the workforce. The Elimination of Violence Against Women is a recent law passed by presidential decree in 2009 that provides hope for the improvement of women’s rights and their access to justice in Afghanistan.

The government of Afghanistan, the international scene and local civic organizations have successfully implemented policies and laws improving the lives of Afghan women by representing them on the political field, increasing their economic roles within Afghan society and providing them with better labor rights. However, the efforts need to be multiplied in order to strengthen women’s empowerment in Afghanistan at all levels.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to AfghanistanAfghanistan has been plagued by war since the Soviet Military Intervention of the 1970s during the Cold War era. The 16-year civil war has impacted the foreign policies of many countries over the years. The fight between the Taliban insurgency and international collation forces has resulted in mass displacement, poverty, discrimination, human rights violations and destitution.

Despite the precarious stalemate reached, there were still an aggregate 3,500 civilian casualties last year, with insuperable pressure on humanitarian agencies and aid workers. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 296,000 individuals have been internally displaced since January 2017.

Foreign aid encompasses emergency assistance, food aid, military assistance and humanitarian and development aid. Consequently, foreign aid continues to be a vital question in solving the “Afghanistan Problem”, as it has been called. Even though foreign aid to Afghanistan has been quite successful over the years, with over 2.2 million individuals reached in the last quarter of 2017 alone, it is becoming a concern for stakeholder groups, organizations and countries involved. Phantom aid is an especially significant issue in Afghanistan, as it never reaches the correct source and fails to address poverty and other associated problems.

Even though Afghanistan’s GDP has been averaging around 3.6 percent annually since 2002 and the economy is showing progress, terrorism still remains one of the most pressing issues in the country. There are many splintered terrorist groups still existing in the country. For instance, the Haqqani Terrorist Network remains one the most hostile wings of the Taliban. Terrorist groups are blocking lines of communication in Afghanistan and further destabilizing the country. Army camps and soldier are imperiled by the threat of terrorism in the country. Owing to the recent surge in violence, the Red Cross is temporarily suspending its aid operations to protect aid workers and civilians.

However, many countries are coming forward to provide foreign aid to Afghanistan. China is coming close to matching the U.S. budget of foreign aid to Afghanistan and is one of the leading donors to the country. It is working with the World Food Programme to provide emergency food aid.

India is also a vital provider of sustainable foreign aid to Afghanistan. Since 2002, India has contributed a massive $2 billion in foreign aid to the country, both in civil and military assistance. India is also very involved in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. The Salma Dam has been an especially crucial development. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aiming to cement stronger ties with India. The two countries will collaborate on solving key issues like terrorism, and working towards political and economic strategies.

Furthermore, over 116 community projects will be developed in 31 major provinces in the realms of education, healthcare, flood control, renewable energy, agriculture and sanitation. India is also providing aid to fund 300 small development projects and working to bolster its military aid to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

However, according to findings by Aiddata, aid efforts remain poor due to the lack of transparency and corruption in the provision of aid to the country and the motives of stakeholder groups involved. Existing immobilities in infrastructure and other aspects are debilitating the progress of foreign aid to Afghanistan. Improving two-way communication in communities in Afghanistan will greatly improve the provision of aid. Foreign aid to Afghanistan must be sustainable for the long-term recovery of the people and the economy, and building the resilience and capacity of governments and businesses.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

Child Marriages in AfghanistanAfghanistan is often ranked as the world’s most dangerous country for women. Young girls are so often robbed of their childhoods by means of widespread violations of their human rights. Poverty, limited access to education and healthcare, little if any support for victims of domestic violence, high birth rates and draconian traditions regarding the role of women leave girls highly vulnerable to abuse.

Though the legal age of marriage is 16 years for women and 18 years for men, as outlined by the Afghan Civil Code, 33 percent of girls are married by the age of 18, the internationally recommended standard legal age for marriage. These marriages essentially treat girls as property in order to strengthen ties between rival families and tribes or to settle debts and disputes. Poor families often sell their daughters for large sums of money to wealthy families and much older men.

Girls who marry in childhood have little power in their household, a greater likelihood of dropping out of school and being illiterate, lower labor force participation and earnings and less control over household assets. Thus, girls’ potential for societal contribution in Afghanistan is immediately stunted by being forced into child marriage.

Child brides, as well as their children, will likely experience a lower standard of health. Adolescent mothers also have a significantly higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity than women just a few years older than them. These deficits, which affect not only the individuals involved in child marriages in Afghanistan but also the entire country, have not gone unnoticed.

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership committed to helping girls fulfill their potentials by putting an end to child marriage. By emphasizing accountability on behalf of governments and other participants to uphold, respect and protect the rights of girls, the organization pressures countries like Afghanistan to address the issue of child marriage.

In April 2017, the Afghan government showed its support for ending child marriage in Afghanistan by launching a National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Culture, with support from UNFPA Afghanistan, the Canadian government and a range of other activists, worked together to develop the declaration. This plan highlights two techniques: initiatives designed to prevent early and childhood marriages and improving laws and services in support of people at risk of early and child marriage.

However, orchestrating a National Action Plan is just the beginning; the plan must be implemented in order to make a difference. Organizations such as Girls Not Brides pledge to ensure that governments take action to protect their girls from underage and unlawful marriage. Initiatives with the goal of putting an end to child marriage in Afghanistan will only succeed with the support of such associations.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

Afghanistan has been in the midst of a war for several decades. While the conditions of war have the ability to stunt progress, the Afghans are unwilling to let their education system crumble. Whether it be national initiatives or programs developed by smaller organizations, education in Afghanistan continues to make progress.

In recent years, Afghanistan has made drastic progress in its education system. In 2002, about 900,000 boys attended school; girls, on the other hand, were not given the same opportunities. Most girls were educated at home to read and write but not much more. With the help of private donors, these numbers have begun to drastically change, and the Ministry of Education has since been able to build 16,000 schools across the country.

Now, there are over nine million students in Afghanistan, 40 percent of which are girls, a stark contrast to the state of education 15 years ago.

Not only is the government working towards creating a better education system throughout the country, but privately-owned companies are trying to make positive changes as well. Teach for Afghanistan, a sector of Teach for All, has been avidly working toward enrolling more students in school. While numbers of adolescents in school have been on the rise, there are still over three million children unenrolled in school, with two million of those actively working instead.

Additionally, schools still do not have enough teachers, leading the student to teacher ratio to be 111 students to one teacher.

In order to combat this problem, Teach for Afghanistan’s founder, Rahmatullah Arman, has helped obtain more teachers around the country. In the eastern province of Nangarhar, there are 80 graduates from Afghan universities teaching 23,000 students in 21 schools as part of the program.

When selecting fellows to teach for the program, it was important to the program to hire many female teachers to try and change the mindset for female education in Afghanistan. It is common for girls to be pulled from school, but the teachers try to reach out to parents and keep as many girls in school as possible.

Education in Afghanistan isn’t perfect; there are millions of boys and girls who are uneducated and female schooling is still seen as less essential to families throughout the country.

While there are still changes that need to be made, many people, as well as the government, recognize the importance of a strong education in giving their people the best chance in the future.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr