Poverty Inquiry – Afghanistan

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Social Studies 10

Afghanistan has the 11th lowest life expectancy in the world, the lowest HDI in Asia, and an absolute poverty rate of 50%.  It’s not surprising that this country is suffering, their history has been stained by endless war beginning in the 1970’s after a very brief period of peace in the 1960’s.  The primary export of Afghanistan is opium, and sadly in today’s climate of security, dealing massive amounts of drugs on an international level is fairly difficult.  Because of the legal issues with their primary export, they have to use wheat as their secondary export.  With agricultural superpowers like Ukraine and India nearby, the demand for Afghan wheat is quite low.

Using the helpful tool Gapminder I was able to track the GDP rise of Afghanistan over a long period of time.  Interestingly, the years in which Afghanistan’s economy grew the most were the years under the control of the USSR and later under the USA.  Although towards the end of the USSR’s reign over Afghanistan, the descent in their GDP per capita began.  After several years of violence, the instability of the nation reduced the GDP per capita to its all time low in 1994.  In 1996, the Taliban gained control of the country and provided stability.  This stability didn’t come free however.  The Taliban were the most brutal and oppressive regime to ever gain power in Afghanistan.  Led by Mullah Omar, the Taliban imposed strict, occasionally nonsensical rules that caused many people to be tragically executed.  The Taliban took a large chunk out of Afghanistan’s workforce by preventing women from holding jobs.  The people of Afghanistan suffered an economy that was worse than what experts have guessed medieval England was like.  In 2001, a breath of fresh air came in the form of mortars and air strikes.  The American invasion resulted in the toppling of the oppressive regime.  America brought democracy and capitalism to Afghanistan.  Afghanistan began a rapid ascent to their current status.  They are still suffering from one of the worst economies in the world, but the economy has been growing steadily since the American invasion.  Unfortunately, the nation still has 50% of it’s people living in absolute poverty.  There are 2 million Afghans who do not have a steady supply to food, and struggle just to survive.  This is a horrifying number.  The UN and the USA both send massive amounts of food aid to help the starving in Afghanistan.  President Karzai issued a speech earlier this month begging the American military to stay in Afghanistan because of the irreplaceable help the United States has given to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan under Karzai and the United States has made greater strides in poverty prevention than has ever been experienced in Afghanistan.  The primary American method is to instate capitalism and pour billions of dollars of aid into the economy.  The USA has pledged $10.4 billion of aid to Afghanistan for development.

The United States also opened up the Afghan Reconstruction Fund, with $50 billion.  This fund holds money from all across the world for the sole purpose of recovering from constant warfare.  The previous governments anti-poverty plan was quite unsuccessful.  The Taliban would slaughter people and burn down their workplaces.  It would outlaw many products that Afghanistan used to use to get even a bit of money.  It would seem that the Taliban’s economic policies had no poverty prevention at all.  Through the aid of the United States and capitalism, Afghanistan’s population living under absolute poverty has gone down from 80% to 50%.  Hopefully the remnants of the Taliban will see that the Afghan people are better off with freedom, and will allow this positive trend to continue and lessen the unnecessary bloodshed.














References –

Afghanistan. (n.d.). Afghanistan. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Taliban. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban

USAID/Afghanistan. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/home


  1. Kirsten says:


    The student communicates information that is always relevant.
    – what level are they using for absolute poverty
    – you need more specifics about poverty
    – you need more specifics about what is being done to help poverty

    The student organizes information into a well-developed and logical sequence, appropriate to the format required.
    – needs to be more obvious.

    Presentation and expression are clear, concise and effective, and the language, style and visual representation used are always appropriate to the audience and purpose.
    – graphic should be better placed because you have to scroll to see it when you are reading about it.

    All sources of information are documented according to a recognized convention
    – 2nd line needs to be indented.

    Criterion D: 6

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