After the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, there has been uncertainty about the citizens’ future. Their health care sector is failing, the West stopped aiding the Afghan people, young girls are losing a simple right such as education, and the country is said to be in a famine-like condition.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), humanitarian access has never been worse. Prices are increasing, and Afghans' needs continue to outstrip resources.
"Every farmer we've spoken to has lost almost all of their crops this year, many have been forced to sell their cattle; they've acquired large debts, and they simply don't have any money," said FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Richard Trenchard.
"No farmer likes to leave their land, but when you don't have food, don't have grain from the previous harvest, don't have seeds in the fields, and your livestock is gone, you might not have a choice," said the UN agency. As of right now, 19 million Afghans are currently facing food insecurity. Since food prices have been rising since 2011, the UN predicts that in the next year, 97% of its population will be living in poverty next summer.
"What's needed now obviously is to get the seeds, get them fertilizer and food assistance that the World Food Programme is providing...but also, it's cash," Trenchard insisted. The situation is dire because agriculture is the backbone of Afghan livelihoods and critical for Afghanistan's economy. According to FAO, around 70 percent of Afghans live in rural areas and an estimated 80 percent of all livelihoods depend on farming or herding. Trenchard said that widespread drought had left families with nothing to eat during the current lean season after harvests were down 80 to 90 percent. He called for a massive increase in humanitarian assistance after seeing for himself the scale of suffering on the streets of rural Herat. According to the FAO, the famine in Afghanistan will continue to worsen during the wintertime. Because of this, the rate of starvation may rise significantly.
Health Care Crisis:
Afghanistan is also currently facing a major health crisis. On September 22, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) made an announcement that it was giving 45 million dollars from an emergency fund to help aid what’s left of Afghanistan’s health care.
According to sources, donor support has gone down and has left medical facilities in shambles with many medical workers unpaid. This donor support was mostly directed at one of Afghanistan’s largest health projects, Sehatmandi. This project supplies basic and essential health care throughout the country. However, they lost 83 percent of their medical facilities, leaving only 17 percent of them functional.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reported that Afghanistan is facing another problem with the fact that they are having issues supplying the most basic of medicine. Ghebreyesus also reported that 37 COVID-19 hospitals had closed down. The WHO stated that the country is part of the last two remaining countries that still have problems with polio and is currently facing a measles outbreak. According to the WHO, as of January 24, 2022, there have been 159,682 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 7,393 confirmed deaths.
In Afghanistan, most secondary schools for girls are closed, and only male students and teachers are allowed back to school. In a recent interview with a local from Kabul, a 16-year-old girl named Nasiba said, “If I am educated, men wouldn’t dare to interfere, but if I am not, they will decide my whole life for me.”
The Taliban has banned girls from past primary school (grades 1-3). However, a Taliban spokesperson said that The Ministry of Education “...is preparing the education of high school girls as soon as possible.” With this policy that the Taliban made, millions of Afghan girls are fearful for their education. If ever schools do reopen for them and if they could essentially go back to “normal”, they know that harm would increase.
The Taliban has weekly meetings about education; however, they only let men attend. “They say, ‘You should send a male representative,’” the director of a girls’ school, Aquila, said in an interview. Women across Afghanistan are continually protesting for their education and livelihoods to reopen as this is a basic right. local named Zainab said, “If the Taliban have changed let our daughters and us go to work.”
An 18-year-old named Roya said, “I always dreamed of being a lawyer and had been preparing to get into law school. But now with the Taliban taking over, I don’t think I have a future.”
From agriculture, to health care, then to education, the people of Afghanistan are struggling as their lives are at stake. During this difficult time, one can only hope for improvements and support. Distance may separate us from those who directly suffer from these unfortunate circumstances, but we can continue to spread awareness and remain informed so that they won’t be alone in fighting for the better.
Photo 1 - AP NEWS
Photo 2 - The New York Times
Afghanistan’s healthcare system on brink of collapse, as hunger hits. (2021, September 25). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1100652
Acute health needs in Afghanistan must be urgently addressed and health gains protected. (2021b, September 22). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news/item/22-09-2021-acute-health-needs-in-afghanistan-must-be-urgently-addressed-and-health-gains-protected
Afghanistan: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard With Vaccination Data. (n.d.). WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard With Vaccination Data. https://covid19.who.int/region/emro/country/af/
Blue, V. J., & Zucchino, D. (2021, October 27). Women in Afghanistan and Girls: Taliban Restrict Their Education. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/world/asia/afghan-girls-schools-taliban.html
Abbasi, F. (2021, November 1). Afghan Girls’ Education: ‘I Don’t Think I Have a Future.’ Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/31/afghan-girls-education-i-dont-think-i-have-future