Almost half the population of Afghanistan is living in poverty. Only one in 10 has access to clean water and sanitation. Maternal mortality is the second highest in the world and one in five children die before the age of five.
Today, Afghanistan is run by an elected president and an elected parliament. The elections held in 2004 and 2005 were the first in more than 30 years. New elections will be held on 20 August 2009, and there is great concern about how this will affect the security situation. The Taliban movement and other groups have again had a large influence in many areas of the country.
The state budget is largely built on development assistance and the country’s economy is poorly developed, with the exception of the illegal narcotics trade. The majority of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan. Corruption and large-scale impunity make it difficult to put an end to the illegal business.
Afghanistan has one of the lowest rankings in Trancparency International’s index, in 176th place among 180 countries.
Few women can read and write
Seven out of 10 Afghans are under the age of 25. Most of them have neither a job or go to school. Only 42 per cent of men can read and write and that figure is even lower among women, just 14 per cent.
Women’s situation is generally poor. There are few female teachers and the schools are often far away from villages. Girls do not have the same chance as boys to go to school. This affects women’s ability to participate and have an influence on society.
Infrastructure will help grow private sector
Most Afghans depend on farming for their survival. But droughts, high food prices and threats from unexploded mines and ammunition make it difficult for farmers to cope.
Because growing poppies for opium is so profitable, it is hard to get farmers to grow any other crop. To create other possibilities for self-support in rural areas, the roads must be rebuilt.
To stop the situation in Afghanistan regenerating again, Sweden and many other countries have decided to invest major resources into Afghanistan.
Sweden’s focus areas in Afghanistan:
- Democracy and human rights
- Development of the private sector.
Read more about our work in Afghanistan.