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Afghanistan stands on threshold of universal poverty: UN agency

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United Nations, Sep 10 (AP) Afghanistan is on the verge of “universal poverty”, the UN’s development agency has said. In such a situation, if immediate steps are not taken to bring the local communities and their economy back on track, then by the middle of next year this estimate may turn into reality. The agency said the economic progress achieved in the 20 years since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan was at risk. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) outlined four scenarios after the Taliban take over Afghanistan on 15 August.

United Nations, Sep 10 (AP) Afghanistan is on the verge of “universal poverty”, the UN’s development agency has said. In such a situation, if immediate steps are not taken to bring the local communities and their economy back on track, then by the middle of next year this estimate may turn into reality. The agency said the economic progress achieved in the 20 years since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan was at risk.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has outlined four scenarios after the Taliban take over Afghanistan on 15 August. These include estimates of GDP (gross domestic product) falling between 3.6 percent and 13.2 percent in the next financial year starting June 2022. However, this will depend on the severity of the crisis and how much the world relates to the Taliban.

Before the fall of Ashraf Ghani’s government in Afghanistan, GDP was projected to increase by 4 percent, so the United Nations agency’s prediction is contrary to that aspect.

UNDP Asia-Pacific Director Kanni Vingraj, while releasing the 28-page assessment at a news conference on Thursday, said: “By the middle of next year, Afghanistan is very likely to be caught in the vicious circle of universal poverty. We are moving in that direction. The poverty rate in Afghanistan is expected to reach 97-98 percent.

Vingraj said that at present the poverty rate is 72 percent. He outlined the various aspects of development that took place after the ouster of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

He said that the per capita income has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Life expectancy has increased by nine years since birth. The number of years children go to school has increased from six to 10 years and the number of women attending university has increased.

But now Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian and development tragedy due to political instability, foreign funding restrictions, the collapse of the public financial system, and the impact on the local banking system, Vingraj said.

AP

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