Life in Afghanistan is safer now than during the war for many people. But two-thirds of households in Afghanistan struggle to find food or other stuff they need. In some regions, people feel their safety is better than before, but in other regions, for example, in Kabul, people feel their safety has not improved. Employment, in general, is higher. Women’s employment has increased as well. But many women have lost their salaried job, and now they are self-employed and home-based.
Access to education has improved in rural areas, but it’s patchy in urban areas where women and girls struggle to study. Healthcare access has also improved in rural areas, but people need more medical care.
This article is based on a survey by the World Bank
conducted in the summer of 2022, and it compares to a previous survey in the autumn of 2021, just after the War in Afghanistan ended in August 2021.
Food in Afghanistan
Rising food prices and the long-term effects of last year’s drought are cited as major reasons for limited food access and affordability.
This is concerning because the data was collected from people in the summer when farm households have typically replenished their grain stores from the spring-summer harvest and employment opportunities are at their peak across the country. This could indicate more severe deprivation in the coming winter months, which are traditionally regarded as the “hungry season”.
Almost half of all household heads report a drop in earnings. The income of a family is lower and could stay lower than it was before.
The majority of people say that if they had some extra money to spend, like 1000 Afghan Afghani (AFN), or 12 US dollars (USD), they would spend it on food for their family.
Work in Afghanistan
Household head employment continues to rise, notwithstanding the periodic increase in employment over the summer months. Private sector salaried employment has increased slightly, while public sector employment has remained low, reflecting a decreased government footprint.
The majority of household heads are self-employed. There has been a significant increase in adult labor force participation, which includes individuals working or seeking for work. More young and older men are looking for work but are unable to find it, adding to the unemployment rate.
In contrast, many more women of all ages have entered the workforce, with female labor force participation more than doubling compared to previous averages. Women are primarily engaged in home-based self-employment.
When households and individuals are linked back to their baseline data, a substantial level of churn in the female labor market is shown. Almost half of women who were previously employed in salaried positions lost their jobs. Many women who formerly dedicated their time to housework or pupils are now working on the farm or at home, doing piecework, sewing, and repairing garments, with the exception of teachers, who have kept two-thirds of their jobs.
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Increased labor participation shows that households adapt to decreased earnings by economically activating additional members of their households.
Read more about finding work in Afghanistan.
At the national level, primary school attendance is the same as it was in 2016, owing mostly to the increasing enrollment of children in rural areas. Primary school enrolment for girls and boys in urban areas remains particularly low and has yet to fully recover from June to August 2020.
Secondary school enrollment has either leveled off or declined. Enrollment rates for boys appear to be static in rural areas and progressively declining in metropolitan ones. Girls’ secondary school attendance fell throughout this time period, notably in cities. The West Central and Northern regions have the greatest rates of female secondary enrolment.
The decline in secondary school attendance for both girls and boys coincides with an increase in the proportion of Afghan teenagers entering the workforce.
Among females who are unable to attend school, approximately half become economically engaged, with the majority working from home or on the family farm. The same increase in employment is visible among adolescent boys, but it is more likely that this reflects household economic suffering over the last year than secondary school closures.
The demand for medical care has increased; nearly nine out of ten households say that at least one member of their household required medical assistance in the last month.
Medical services are still available, with only 8% of people who required them stating that they couldn’t get them.
Approximately 57 percent of all individuals who received medical care did so in a private facility. • Public hospitals play an important role in health provision in urban areas, and basic public facilities are the second most important source of health care in rural areas. • Both men and women sought and received health care at the same rates from public and private providers. The West-Central region is the most reliant on public health facilities, while the South and Southwest are the least.
In general, people’s perceptions of safety are improving, with the majority feeling safer than a year earlier. However, there are major geographical variances. The feeling of increased safety is especially pronounced in previously contested areas, particularly in the South and Southeast, where fighting was most intense in the summer of 2021. Respondents from the center region, encompassing Kabul, and the West-center region are considerably less likely to see gains in safety.
If you want to get out of Afghanistan, read more about traveling out of Afghanistan.
This is what a person living in Afghanistan wrote to us in mid-2022.
Hello, I live in an environment that is full of various incidents.
Everyone lives in fear. Someone talks about poverty.
When something bad happens to them.
Life goes by every moment in regret that maybe we will achieve our dreams one day.
Maybe we will be able to earn a piece of bread for our family. Maybe everything will change one day.
The real joy of life has disappeared. For the sake of peace and happiness, we go to a place where there are a few happy moments.
Let the fear pass, so maybe some controversy will stop.
All the fear is the fear of our land. It has been reaped from bitter memories.
It has always given a thousand sacrifices, and it is still going on.
Sources: The World Bank on living conditions in Afghanistan
The cover image is somewhere in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Wanman uthmaniyyah on Unsplash
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