In Afghanistan, iguacu recommends:
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“There is always a path to the top of the mountain.”
This Afghan proverb illustrates well the mind-set of the Afghan people. To reach peace and prosperity, Afghans will have to climb up the steep mountain of reconstruction. They know that however sharp and difficult the slope, there is a way up.
The history of Afghan poetry dates back millennia. Afghans hear and recite poetry from cradle to grave. Mothers rock their babies to sleep with improvised poetry turned into lullabies. They learn to be poets from the youngest age. This is how a whole society of poets was born, whether they are Tajik, Hazara, Pashtun, Uzbek, Turkmen, Nuristani, Baluch, or any other of the hundreds of ethnic groups in the country. Even the Taliban published a poetry book in 2012.
Afghanistan has an immense cultural wealth to share with the world but unless they receive support, all we will ever know of this incredible country is war.
Afghanistan has been in constant war for more than 30 years. War with the Soviet Union, takeover of the state by the Taliban and the subsequent US-led NATO intervention against them have weakened the state and its institutions, and torn through the Afghan social fabric. Despite the international training support and gradual hand-over of responsibility to Afghan forces since mid-2011, security remains the key threat. In 2015 alone, there were more than 11,000 casualties (3,500 deaths and 7,500 injured).
Natural disasters also take a toll on the population. Farming faces highly challenging weather conditions such as earthquakes, floods and droughts, which worsen the food crisis.
Internationally, engagement in Afghanistan – including financial and logistical aid – has withdrawn a little but US military aid will be kept at the current level for the foreseeable future. The influence and actions of neighbors Iran and Pakistan looms as a key factor affecting Afghanistan’s security and development.
What is the situation on the ground?
Today, outbreaks of armed violence, poverty and human rights abuses blight everyday life for many Afghans. While conflict has led to an increase in the number of internally displaced people – currently a million – certain areas of the country, especially in the south and east, cannot be accessed by international aid workers.
There are around over 8 million people in need including nearly two million Afghans in need of food assistance.
Military operations in neighbouring Pakistan have recently forced more than 15,000 families to flee into Afghanistan. Following heavy rainfall between April and June in 2015, around 150,000 Afghans were affected by floods and landslides. Nearly 17,000 people lost their homes. Moreover, the country is not self‐sufficient in its water supply and shares the majority of its river basins with neighbouring states.
Which sectors need your help?
Given the weak capacity of the government in war-torn and disaster-prone Afghanistan, our network of experts recommend a ‘multi-sectoral’ approach to address the numerous needs within the country. Afghanistan has to rebuild its infrastructure, improve its health services and access to education, and enhance agricultural production and rural development.
Photo Credits (top to bottom): Michael Foley / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Seair21 / CC BY-SA, US Army, Map: The World Factbook.
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