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Document Abstract
Published: 2012

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in Afghanistan

Conflicted goals and practices between donors in Afghanistan is a problem that must be tackled
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Afghanistan is a low-income country with conflicting cultures and rooted terrorism. This paper examines the current developmental context in Afghanistan, exploring the roles of national policies and external aids in that case.

The paper highlights the improvements in access to basic services funded by aid money, and the measurable progress has been made in access to basic health and education, although delivery has been uneven across the country. However, it finds that there is a lack of basic data on aid interventions at the ground level. Moreover, many of the rural and urban poor are certainly no better off than before, and for many livelihood security is worse.

Learned lessons include:
  • the state-centricity of the reconstruction programme and the focus on formal institutions have led to a profound neglect of informal processes and institutions that significantly support the regional social orders
  • an approach that disengages assessment of change from specific programme interventions might offer a more robust understanding of what is actually happening

Furthermore, the document suggests three major interlinked research themes as critical key research that should be addressed:
  • building a better understanding of context and the ways programmatic interventions designed to build public good provision and livelihood support engage at village level with the existing political orders, and with what effects
  • understanding the means by which regional leaders build political authority, the circumstances that drive the provision, the distribution of public goods and the incentives that can be provided by external actors to widen this provision
  • enabling a better understanding of how markets work in practice and how they are socially regulated, which is fundamental to exploring the nature of growth and its distributional outcomes

In addition, the document underlines the problem of the conflicted goals and practices between donors, which needs to be tackled.
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