Executive Summary

For decades, Afghanistan has remained one of the poorest countries in the world. The situation has become even direr with the impoverished country under the Taliban,s new hardline rule. A recent study suggests that as many as 97% of Afghans will be living below the poverty line in the next few years. The country’s economy is heavily aid-dependent which has deteriorated since the Taliban takeover and is facing a complete development collapse.

Even before the Taliban took over, the solid economic growth experienced between 2007 and 2012 did not reduce poverty; instead, it contributed to widening inequality in Afghanistan. According to a World Bank report, the disparity saw 20% of the poorest Afghans’ real per capita expenditure decrease by 2%, while that of the wealthiest 20% Afghans increased by 9%. The inequalities and Taliban take over have led to increased poverty levels in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s population has a high dependency rate and high reliance on agriculture, especially the poor people, which has led to the increasing number of people living below the poverty line give the severe drought facing the country since 2019. Afghans’ high dependence rate has led to reduced investment and productivity, causing high unemployment, which results in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Opportunity Assessment and Identification

Poverty in Afghanistan is has been rising since 2012 due to the declining economic growth. For instance, between 2012 and 2018, Afghanistan’s GDP annual growth rate declined from 12.75% in 2012 to 1.45% in 2015 and 1.03% in 2018 (World Bank, 2019). The major contributing factor to the declining economic growth is the severe drought facing the country affecting the agriculture sector. Intensifying insecurity and the Taliban takeover have contributed significantly to national income decline. After the fall of the Taliban in the 2000s, the reconstruction of the economy led to a decrease in poverty. However, the economic downturn has increased significantly in rural areas and increased unemployment and poor households since 2012. This is due to low agricultural productivity due to drought and insecurity with the current Taliban take over. The objective of this analysis the sources and challenges of the increased poverty rate facing Afghanistan

Poverty Line and Intensity

In Afghanistan, poverty is widespread both in urban areas and rural areas. According to CSO (2018) data, 28% and 38% of urban and rural populations live in abject poverty. World Bank report 2019 report stated that 39% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 30% of the population is on the verge of sinking due to drought and insecurity. In a recent UN study, Afghanistan is expected to see a 25% increase of people living below poverty by 2022 due to the catastrophic deterioration of the heavily aid-dependent economy and the new Taliban hardline rule.

Approximately 72% of Afghanistan’s population is said to be living below the poverty line. The presence of large households with many children leads to a high number of Afghans living in poverty. The number of Afghans living in poverty has significantly increased over the past decade. Over the same time, poverty intensity also doubled, with the poverty gap rising from 7% to 15% in the financial years 2007/08 and 2016/17, respectively. CSO (2018) considers the poverty gap as the most appropriate measure of poverty intensity.

According to the World Bank (2019), rural population health expenditure was relatively low compared to the urban population. A critical characteristic of developing countries is the inverse relationship between the rich and the poor income. Considering the Afghanistan scenario, the rich saw a 20% increase in income while the poor declined; it is evident that in most developing countries, the wealthy continue to be rich while the poor continue being poor.

Driving Causes for Poverty in Afghanistan

Profuse factors drive the high number of Afghanistan citizens living below poverty while increasing the intensity of poverty in Afghanistan. Among the critical factors in the past years are the insecurity in Afghanistan and neighboring countries and the severe drought affecting the country’s agriculture.

Environmental Factors

In Afghanistan, agriculture provides a source of livelihood to over 75% of the population (World Bank, 2018). The severe drought experienced in the country for the past decade has increased the number of Afghans living in poverty. This climate-related threat and risk are among the most critical factors that have led to economic activities downturn for the last decade (UN, 2018). Since the drought started in 2012, a 2018 report by World Bank stated that the most critical sectors to be affected were agriculture and rural development. The decline in agricultural production has decreased the poor’s income as they depend on agriculture for survival. This has led Afghans to continue living in poverty since the government had no alternative plans put in place to counter low agricultural productivity.

Despite the enormous impact of climate change, the Afghanistan authorities have not tried to mitigate any externalities of the natural disaster. For instance, the government has not established any plans to resume farming devoid of rain-fed agricultural activities. Pollution in Afghanistan’s capital has risen to alarming levels; however, the government has not shown any effort to cope with environmental issues and other concerns for the last 15 years. People living in such dangerous environments are a good indicator of poor standards of living in the country.

Decline in income

Despite the economic growth experienced between the year 2007 to 2012, the country’s national income and output have been declining. The solid economic growth experienced between 2007 and 2012 did not reduce poverty; instead, it contributed to widening inequality in Afghanistan. According to a World Bank report, the disparity saw 20% of the poorest Afghans’ real per capita expenditure decrease by 2%, while that of the wealthiest 20% Afghans increased by 9%.

However, a country’s GDP could increase between different years due to price fluctuations (Dynan and Sheiner, 2018). For instance, there would be a proportionate increment in the GDP if the inflation rates between the different years differ significantly. This means that an increase in GDP does not indicate the improvement of the welfare of ordinary citizens. This could be why Afghanistan’s GDP rose substantially while the livelihood of its citizens did not improve.

Source: World Bank 2021

For the last ten years, Afghanistan has been experiencing fluctuations in its GDP per capita. Between 2009 and 2012, the GDP per capita increased from $438.08 to $641.87, respectively. In the following years, the GDP Fluctuation has been a declining trend. According to the World Bank (2020), a constant GDP per capita decline in Afghanistan is a characteristic of developing countries. Developing countries demonstrate fluctuations of GDP per capita between different periods (Dynan and Sheiner, 2018). If the GDP per capita increases, the income of the citizen’s increases, and if the GDP per capita declines, the individuals experience declining revenues. We can conclude that when GDP per capita drops, the level of poverty in a county increases, and if the GDP per capita increases, the level of poverty decreases.

According to World Bank (2019), the consumer price index of Afghanistan has been rising with an annual average of 5%. Whereas a decline in GDP per capita indicates a dropping share of national output for each citizen, a rise in the consumer price index shows a decrease in real income. The consumer price index or GDP deflator is linked with the ability of citizens to buy an equal basket of commodities individuals could buy at a lower GDP deflator. The ability of Afghanistan citizens to purchase essentials has been dropping with an annual average of 5%, while inflation has risen by a similar rate each year. The declining purchasing power of the ordinary population may show that the number of Afghans living below the poverty line is increasing (Brueckner and Lederma, 2017).

Demographic Factors

Demographic factors can significantly determine a country’s level of poverty. According to the World Bank (2019), Afghanistan recorded a high fertility rate of 5.5 births per woman in the last decade. This accounts for the high number of young populations in Afghanistan. The challenge associated with young people is that it raises dependency in a country (Adams, et al., 2014). The graph below clearly shows that 43.09% of Afghanistan’s population is comprised of young people below the age of 15. The percentage of young people remains high despite the declining trend experienced since 2000. In 2000 those below age 15 were 48.9% which has slowly decreased to 44.9% by 2015.

Source: World Bank 2019

With such a high dependency rate, poverty continues to increase while causing a reduction in investment since the working population spends a large proportion of their income taking care of the unemployed young and old population. According to World Bank (2019), Afghanistan’s aging population (65 years and above) only comprises a considerably small section of 2.6% of the total population. Thus, the young population accounts for the high dependence rate. As of 2018, Afghanistan had a very high dependency rate, with the dependents being 84% of the working-age citizens. Due to the low investment rate, productivity decreases, leading to high unemployment rates, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty. The graph below shows the level of dependency, and we can see that the young population is the major contributor to the high rates of dependence.

Source: World Bank 2019

Social and Economic Vulnerabilities and Mitigation

Afghanistan’s economy is susceptible to economic shock originating from international economies and markets due to its high dependency on foreign sources of capital. Afghanistan heavily depends on remittance by foreign direct investment and individual citizens living in foreign countries (World Bank, 2018). With such kind of dependency, even minor economic shocks have a significant negative impact on the economy of Afghanistan. For instance, Afghanistan’s BOP deficit was US$979.4 million in 2009, which increased to US$5.5 billion in 2012 and US$4.2 billion in 2017. The negative account balance currently stands at 18.67% of the GDP (World Bank, 2019). This vulnerability is among the leading causes of poverty in Afghanistan.

Women, children, and people living with disabilities are also vulnerable to risks and threats emerging from the realities of life in Afghanistan, which is another source of poverty (CSO, 2018). These marginalized groups of people are subjected to wretched living conditions due to scarcity of access to decent essential commodities, social amenities, and sources of income. Other risks affecting these cohort members include limited access to health care and employment, susceptibility to assaults and injuries resulting from armed conflict. These factors lower the living standards of the marginalized population members, which raises the level of poverty even higher.

Mitigation of Poverty

Poverty in Afghanistan can be solved through numerous means. Among them is that Afghanistan must focus on strengthening agriculture, managing and mitigating risks that increase poor people’s vulnerability, and investing in human development. With the current agriculture problem caused by drought, the government should develop strategic plans to introduce irrigation schemes to circumvent reliance on rain to fed agriculture, which is vulnerable to climate changes.

On the issue of investing in human development, the government should implement measures that help enhance the education system; the education system should also emphasize educating women on family planning to reduce the size of the family. The government should also develop a way to end inequality facing the country and increase the poor’s income. This solution will reduce the high dependency rate while increasing savings that would encourage domestic investment.

Conclusion

The problem of increased poverty rates has affected Afghanistan for a long time. However, various Global Organizations have recognized this fact and are implementing policies that will end the problem. Furthermore, the above solution’s implementation will decrease the high poverty rates in Afghanistan.

The use of social media increases daily.  The statistics of more and more users joining social networking platforms increases the need to understand how the influence of the internet has been on quality of life. The experiences will vary from one user to another in the way social media defines their lifestyle in matters of communication, expression, and socialization. There emerged a serious problem of people displaying positive vibes on daily basis even about achievements they have not attained yet. The possibility of pressure from friends, colleagues, or fellow students from their social media lifestyle increases the chances of fear of missing out. However, more details are required to explore whether social media contributes or associates with the fear of missing out from a common group.

Alutaybi, A., Al-Thani, D., McAlaney, J., & Ali, R. (2020). Combating Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on Social Media: The FoMO-R Method. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 17(17), 6128. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176128

The article introduces the subject of social media use to be associative with lifestyle comparison and apprehension. Focusing on how to combat the fear of missing out on social networking sites, the authors identify the interaction model that has changed the way people could perceive life and grow together as friends. The highlight on important concepts experienced through the changing lifestyles and the adoption of online community values helps bring into understanding the impact media has caused. Reflecting on the rampant nature of using social media in daily life, the article findings discovered how unseen life attainments create fear of missing out in personal growth and adaptation. The outcomes of the depressive thoughts and irrelevance amongst friends intensify the demand for coping measures. From the context, the writers highlighted personal checklists and technical auto measures like automatic replies to combat the consequences of feeling incompatible or low.

The findings and directives outlined in the content expand on the knowledge about social media and its influence to fear of missing out on abilities, relevance, and fitting in a group. The approach of elaborating the need for controlling and avoiding the missing out experience adds more insight on social media’s negative effects maintenance. The details will be useful for the research question to go beyond prove of social media causing FOMO to practice that users can be trained on for a healthy living.

Bloemen, N., & De Coninck, D. (2020). Social Media and Fear of Missing Out in Adolescents: The Role of Family Characteristics. Social Media + Society, 6(4), 205630512096551. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120965517

The discussion in the article explored social media use among adolescents. The focus on media utilization and connection with the fear of missing out was highlighted through various vulnerability nature of young people including the family setting they encounter in daily life. The context hinted at the nature of adolescents as most volatile in comparing their lifestyle with a variety of achievements that connects to more social issues. Proving social media to be contributing to the FOMO included identification of poor family and relative relationships as a worth comparison in media platforms causing distress to teens not well up like their peers. The inclusion of the family environment contributed to a new level of understanding on social media addiction for socialization and finding better company the family fail to provide. The consequences of missing out were explained to increase as more young people tend to dissociate from tense family environments and look better.

The content provided a way to explore teenage social networking sites use and its relevance in fear of missing out from valuable social relationships. The alternative explanation of social media use and consequences to highlight family set up contributions to the complexities increased the study area for the research. Provision of more explanations for fear of missing out among adolescents using social media for a better connection with society proved better background knowledge for completion of the research.

Tandon, A., Dhir, A., Talwar, S., Kaur, P., & Mäntymäki, M. (2021). Dark consequences of social media-induced fear of missing out (FoMO): Social media stalking, comparisons, and fatigue. Technological Forecasting And Social Change, 171, 120931. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120931

In the content discussion, the address of social media created fear of missing out was explained in the context of its harmful nature to affected users. The writers approached the topic with more open-minded knowledge on more issues linked to FOMO causing higher life complications. the outline of fatigue and stalking from social media use extended the general knowledge in which many social media users sink deeper into painful experiences without realization. The social media community which comprises the need for comparison lifestyle and checking on the updated status of friends form a cycle of reflection, reference, and questioning why certain levels are yet to be realized beyond one’s control. The findings from the study involved the psychosocial impact of social media and the dangers of interaction between fatigue, stalking, and fear of missing out for an individual. The conclusion explored the need for a better understanding of the relationship between social comparisons, FOMO, fatigue, and stalking.

The contributions of the article provided deeper insight into social media use and its relationship with more complex social issues including FOMO. The information will be useful in research for elaboration about different faces of social media use to an individual at different frequencies and interests of the user. The content builds more on knowledge and the necessity to focus on personal life influence by social media.