Poverty Puts Afghanistan’s children at High Risk of Hunger

12 Aug 2023
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Poverty Puts Afghanistan’s children at High Risk of Hunger

Sharif Safi

Following the collapse of Afghanistan’s Republic government in August 2021, the country’s economy collapsed unexpectedly. According to data provided by the United Nations, the population living in poverty has surged to 34 million individuals.

Among the most vulnerable groups are women and children. Through interactions with numerous Afghan families, I spoke with many Afghan families who shared their stories about struggling with poverty. The aftermath of the political turmoil has left those at heightened risk without their sources of income, with a significant portion of low-income households struggling to secure adequate nourishment, leading to persistent experiences of hunger.

For instance, there are children who lost their father many years ago during their formative years and have since grown up facing disabilities. Sayeed Nazeer, depicted as the middle child in the following image, is now seventeen years old but faces challenges in both speaking and walking.

Sayeed Nazeer, in the middle, is seventeen old. He cannot talk or walk (Photo:  Sharif Safi)


His uncle, Qasim, shares, “When they were young, their father passed away, and due to poverty, I was unable to provide them with medical care in any hospital. Presently, they are angry, yet our financial limitations prevent us from providing substantial support.”

Being born with a disability in Afghanistan is not the only problem but also poverty plunges individuals into a distressing situation. Despite Qasim’s employment, the transition of power to the Taliban regime brought about a reduction in government workers’ salaries, causing a loss of income.

“With this income, I cannot provide enough food for both my family and them. I cannot even buy any medicine for them because sometimes they need pills.”

The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan has cast a profound impact on the country’s economy, as a significant 60 percent of its GDP relied on foreign aid. Currently, all funds from the U.S. and its allies have stopped in Afghanistan. The Taliban retained some personnel from the previous government, while many others faced unemployment.

Photo: Sharif Safi

Jamshid Safi was one of those employees who experienced it, and when the Taliban regained power, he was disqualified from his job. Now supporting six children with no source of income, he says that his children often go to bed hungry, leaving him with a deep sense of helplessness.

“For years, I worked for the government, and with my salary, we at least survived. But now it is a difficult time for us, especially when I return home empty-handed.”

On the ground, international organizations such as UNDP have distributed food and shelter to many low-income families. But these efforts fall short, and international NGOs should be called upon for further assistance to prevent the potential loss of millions of lives.

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