The UN reported on Thursday that Afghanistan’s economy is collapsing, with all but 3% of households set to descend into poverty in the next months.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has announced the introduction of a “people’s economy” fund to provide badly needed access to cash to regular Afghans.
The fund will use donations that have been suspended since the Taliban took power in August. UNDP president Achim Steiner told media in Geneva that Germany has already pledged $58 million of the more than $660 million needed over the next 12 months.
He stated that there are 38 million people who cannot be maintained alive just by external means. “We have to step in, we have to stabilise a ‘people’s economy’ and in addition to saving lives, we also have to save livelihoods.
“Because otherwise, we will indeed confront a scenario through this winter and into next year where millions and millions of Afghans are simply unable to stay on their land, in their homes, in their villages and survive.”
Steiner noted that the UNDP is already in contact with other donors to raise funds. He added that discussions over the last few weeks have centred on how we might find a method to mobilize these resources in light of the current economic crisis and the international community’s repeated vow not to forsake the Afghan people.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked the international community to act during a “make or break” period for the country last week. While stating that humanitarian assistance saves lives, the UN Secretary-General warned that it would not address the situation if Afghanistan’s economy collapses.
The fund is part of ABADEI, a new program for the country that stands for community resilience.
According to the agency, it’s aimed to help prevent a humanitarian disaster and the country’s economy from totally collapsing by aiding Afghanistan’s most vulnerable citizens and crumbling micro-businesses.
UNDP, UN agencies, and non-governmental groups will participate in ABADEI, which will provide community-level solutions to supplement urgent humanitarian measures.
“The country needs immediate humanitarian assistance, but we also need to keep the local economies going – this is fundamental to ensure that people still have livelihoods and feel that they have a future in their communities,” Mr. Steiner said.
Cash in local currency will be provided directly to community groups and to Afghan workers in public works programmes, such as drought and flood control.
Grants will also be given to micro-enterprises and a temporary basic income would be paid to the vulnerable elderly and disabled, added Kanni Wignaraja, Director of UNDP’s regional bureau for the Asia Pacific.
This will enable people to stay and live and work on their lands and in their homes and allow them to earn an income and give them “the respect and dignity that they deserve and call for”, said Ms. Wignaraja.
All assistance provided will be based on impartial assessments carried out in conjunction with local community leaders and independently of authorities.