Development in the 'raw': What livelihood trajectories and poverty outcomes tell us about welfare regimes and resilience in Afghanistan
Based on a detailed study of the lives of 64 rural Afghan households since 2002 in three contrasting parts of the country it was found that eight years on many struggle to meet day to day needs and are even worse off than before. While many have experienced improvements in access to basic services, livelihood security has declined for the majority. This has been largely due to factors outside their control such as drought, the ban on opium cultivation and rising global food prices. For the few who have improved their circumstances, largely living near Kandahar it has been mainly through diversifying out of agriculture rather than remaining in it. For those that have done best initial wealth and good political connections have provided them opportunities in the urban economy. While collective action at the village level could be supportive of poor peoples lives this was strongest where economic equalities were least. Where economic inequalities were high, as in Kandahar, village elites were
largely self interested.
Public policy in Afghanistan has placed a strong emphasis on market oriented agricultural production. But for many the risks of market engagement are too high and first food security needs to be assured. There is a need for more attention to promoting rural employment, improving support for saving and insurance and building on informal means of social assistance where collective action works best. Greater attention is needed to social inequalities in programme design and implementation.