Goal 1: No Poverty
Afghanistan has put in the effort since 2015 to ensure that it has achieved most of the SDGs in the country, with the hope of improving the living conditions of its people. The government has held community mobilization initiatives, national conferences, and capacity-building programs to support government institutions to ensure that the SDGs areachieved(Razzaq, 2020). For decades, the country has experienced a war that has affected its economic activities, plunging the country into economic challenges that have affected how the people live. A large percentage of the country’s population lives under the poverty line with a bleak hope of improving this future situation.
There are several measures that the government has implemented to try and make this situation better. These include implementing the Afghanistan Civil Society Consortium that can create awareness, grassroots mobilization, advocacy, and local community capacity-building. Also, the national coalition has implemented various activities designed to facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and these activities are monitored and different levels of the implementation process throughout the country. Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) in Afghanistan provides technical support to various institutions in the Afghan government in their efforts to achieve the SDG. Furthermore, GCAP has designed a framework for Sustainable Development Goals in the country.This group also liaises with other related groups at the national, regional, and international levels and implements the available resources to achieve the goals. The country has made tremendous efforts, especially in improving the poverty levels in the country.
Plans and Strategies Designed to Eradicate Poverty
Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems
Although the country has made tremendous efforts in poverty alleviation in the past decade, its plans to increase social protection for those living in abject poverty remain a priority for the government. Afghanistan is one of the low-income countries where most people have no access to social protection systems, which is one reason behind the country’s extreme poverty. In Afghanistan, only an estimated 1-5% of the population has access to social security compared to middle-income nations. The social security plan to be implemented by Afghanistan against poverty will cover the minority within the population, including people living with disabilities, children and old people, martyred families, and pensioners. The government’s efforts to implement this strategy have seen social protection offered to an estimated 155,000 martyred families, 120,000 pensioners, and 35,000 vulnerable members of the society. This strategy is designed to help those people who cannot work to improve their living conditions.
Significant mobilization of resources
Mobilization of resources isa strategy adopted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) to improve people living in extreme poverty. The fight against poverty requires financial muscle and other resources to improve the condition. Some of the resources that the government has mobilized are designed to facilitate job creation, support farming, and agricultural activities in the country, and target the minority groups through social protection initiatives. According to the data presented by the ministry of finance, an estimated $ 2.1 billion of the country’s budget has been allocated towards direct poverty eradication initiatives. This budget has been divided into $ 200 million for each year till 2030.
According to the country, education, health, and social protection are the three main pillars that can be used to eradicate poverty. Therefore, the government has implemented measures to invest in these dimensions to reduce poverty in the country. In the past one and half decades, GoIRA has made tremendous achievements in the education and health sectors. In 2016, the government allocated 18% to these sectors. The country has received support from other rich countries in terms of loans and grants that it has put into use to improve the health and education sector conditions. The United Nations and other global and organizations that fight against poverty have provided various forms of support, such as training programs for the people like farming initiatives that are all designed to improve the people’s living conditions. The country has mobilized resources from both the private and public sectors in the world.
Set Goals to Reduce the Number of People Living in Poverty
To ensure that any initiative is accomplished, achievable goals must be set.GoIRA has set goals against poverty where the country plans to reduce by at least half the number of women, men, and children living in poverty. It is estimated that between 2011 and 2012, an estimated 36.6% of Afghans were living in abject poverty. 28.9% of this number was living in urban centers, 37.3% in rural Afghanistan, while 53.8% were of the Kochi population. By setting this goal, the country targets what number of people it plans to alleviate out of poverty by 2030.
The Afghanistan government’s goals are not just financial but also involve working with other institutions in the country to ensure poverty in the country is alleviated. Institutions such as Global Call to Action Against Poverty receive support from the government to implement various activities designed to reduce poverty among the people. Ensuring that people living with disabilities, the old, and children have access to social protection programs is also a major goal set by the government towards poverty eradication. Additionally, working to improve the three important ministries, health, education, and agriculture, is also another goal of the country. The health sector ensures that the people are healthy to work, the education sector ensures that the people have the necessary knowledge and expertise to be employed, while the agriculture sector ensures that the country is self-sufficient when it comes to food. By achieving these goals, the country can achieve its goals concerning poverty by 2030.
Challenges of Implementing the Strategies
Lack of Adequate Education
According to the Afghanistan government, education is one of the key pillars that will help the government achieve poverty eradication. However, the country’s population suffers from extensive illiteracy, and it is estimated that 75.6% of poor people are illiterate. Also, it is estimated that 8% of the people in the country suffer from unemployment due to lack of education, 41% are underemployed due to inadequate education, while 43.6% work in the agricultural sector and 84.3% work in the informal sector(Akseer,2016). The lack of enough education has affected the country’s ability to effectively help Afghan escape the grasps of poverty, especially those that can work but lack education. With the current advancement in technology and industrialization, most of the work that companies are creating all over the world is either blue-collar or white-collar. Therefore, it is challenging to help poor people out of poverty due to the high illiteracy level. Ann assessment of the people working in the country indicates that most of them are employed in the informal sector compared to those in the formal and the main reason behind this the rate of illiteracy among the poor people.
Important Sectors are not well Invested
The international community has provided support to the country, including growing its economy. Still, the investment has not been enough to be shared with all the important sectors of the economy.According to the Afghanistan government, education, health, and agriculture are important sectors that can help the government alleviate poverty and improve people’s living conditions. Although international spending helped improve the country’s education and health sector and created employment opportunities in these sectors, the agricultural sector, which is also important in the fight against poverty. A large percentage, 43.6%, of the people living in poverty work in the agricultural sector; therefore, channeling more financial resources in this area can help them escape poverty. A balanced economy means that all the essential sectors in the country attract attention in equal measures to ensure that all citizens have equal opportunities irrespective of the sectors that they are working in. A substantial number of Afghans are working in the Agricultural industry. Without government support such as grants and loans, these farmers can’t engage in any beneficial farming activity that can pull them out of poverty and improve their living conditions.
Apart from lack of education and unequal investments in important sectors of the government, poor security in the country is another challenge that negatively affects the government’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal of no poverty in the country. Even though the government is under a new government and some stability has been achieved, most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed, and those available cannot efficiently facilitate quick economic development. Poor infrastructure has affected the rate at which the people are empowered in the country. Education and the health care system, which are integral for successful development, are yet to reach international levels, which means that the quality of education is wanting. People still live in fear because of the war that had lasted for years, and starting new investments is a challenge for them.
Talking of inadequate resources does not just refer to financial resources but also other resources essential for poverty eradication and self-development, and actualization. The country has been at war for the longest time, and rebuilding takes a lot of financial resources, given the fact that the world has advanced so much. The country has put much of its financial resources into infrastructural development, and this means that a limited amount of the country’s budget is set aside to fight poverty(Mirwais,2020). It is estimated that only 18% of the country’s budget is set aside for the effort of fighting poverty, this is about 2 billion of the budget, and it is divided into 200 million every year till 2030; this means that the country has access to just 200 million to fight poverty for one year. Assessing the level of poverty in the country and the people’s needs, this amount is not enough to eradicate poverty in the country and improve the living conditions of the people by 2030.
Although the country has received support from various countries and international bodies, the resources are insufficient to efficiently and effectively combat poverty in the country. Other resources that the country lacks apart from finances are in the education sector, such as inadequate equipment to ensure quality education and training. Also, the number of trained teachers in the schools is not enough to meet the increasing number of students. Inadequate resources in the education system can also be a reason behind the country’s high illiteracy levels. The health care system, which is also important in fighting poverty alleviation, suffers inadequate resources (Najafizada, 2017). Like the education sector, equipment and personnel in the health sector are not adequate to guarantee quality treatment and medical health care. A sick and unhealthy population in a country is a liability because the people will not attend to their economic needs.
To conclude, despite the various challenges that the country has faced in its fight against poverty, the efforts it has put in have extensively improved the living conditions of the citizen. Improving the major sectors in the country, health, education, and offering social protection to the people who cannot engage in economic activities was a wise move for the government. However, due to the challenges, Afghanistan will not be able to achieve zero poverty by 2030, the number of people living in the country due to extreme poverty will have reduced exponentially.