Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Economy, Development, Environment

This priority area covers Afghanistan’s political economy, economic development and poverty, with a focus on sectors with important political and/or rule of law implications, such as mining, banking and transport and, in the past, the private security sector.

The United States and its international allies have pursued various counter-narcotics approaches, centred mainly on eradication and interdiction, since 2001. Here a picture of government-led eradication in Helmand's provincial capital, Lashkar Gah in 2015. The Afghan government’s erdication efforts have been negligible since 2014. Only 3,760 of 183,000 hectares planted with opium poppy have been eradicated in 2015. Credit: Andrew Quilty, 2015.

A Drop from Peak Opium Cultivation: The 2018 Afghanistan survey

Jelena Bjelica

The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2018 released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows decrease of a fifth in the countrywide cultivation of opium compared to the previous years. The 263,000 hectares under the cultivation in Afghanistan this year was still the second largest score for Afghanistan since the UNODC began […]

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Well-diggers in the process of digging a deep well of 100 metres in Taimani neighbourhood of Kabul city. Photos: Author, 2018.

Blue Gold: The quest for household water in Kabul city

S Reza Kazemi

Given growing water scarcity and pollution, increasing numbers of residents in Kabul city are struggling to provide enough safe water for their households. Many are forced to turn to the expanding private water business for their needs: eitherby paying for water from mobile water tankers, subscribing to local private water supply companies or buying bottled […]

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Less Rain and Snowfall in Afghanistan: High level of food assistance needed until early 2019

Jelena Bjelica

The Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) has reported that in 22 of Afghanistan’s provinces, cumulative rain and snowfall during the ‘wet season’ – October 2017 to May 2018 – was 30 to 60 per cent below average. The northwest of the country has been particularly hard hit. AAN’s Jelena Bjelica (with input from Obaid Ali […]

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The new counter-narcotics law stipulates that the confiscated drugs can either be converted to medicine or sold to one of the countries that has INCB licence. But, Afghanistan may face many obstacles in implementation of this provision, including a low seizure levels. Photo: Andrew Quilty; Helmand province, 2015.

How to Fight the Booming Opiate Economy? Harsher and progressive laws, but to no avail

Jelena Bjelica

The opiate economy, as measured by the farm-gate value of opium, together with revenues from heroin production and trafficking of opiates to the Afghan borders, has become a crucial component of the Afghan economy, a recently released UNODC socio-economic survey found. This has evolved after years of increasing opium cultivation in the country. But, what […]

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The State of Aid and Poverty in 2018: A new look at aid effectiveness in Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig Jelena Bjelica

Two new reports have found that despite improvements in some sectors, aid delivery in Afghanistan is still largely ineffective and poverty has risen. A joint Oxfam and Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) report on aid effectiveness reveals that while development aid has decreased, donor support continues to be fragmented and aid dependency remains high. Meanwhile, […]

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Photo: Christine Roehrs 2015

2018 Afghan National Budget 2: Deals done with MPs to get budget through parliament

Kate Clark

Figures for the 2018 Afghan budget are in the public realm and show that, despite government attempts to clean up its finances, Afghanistan’s Members of Parliament (MPs) were, once again, ‘given’ projects to persuade them to vote the budget through. The draft budget presented to parliament in November 2017 had been almost balanced; the one […]

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Ministry of Finance says next year’s budget is committed to focussing Afghanistan’s “declining resources” on priority areas such as education. Photo: schoolchildren in Nad Ali, Helmand 2010, ISAF)

The 2018 Afghan National Budget: Confronting hard realities by accelerating reforms

Kate Clark Bill Byrd

Afghanistan’s budget for the next financial year, 1397/2018, is markedly different from previous ones. This is a budget written to ‘international standards’, giving more information, both on 2018 and earlier years, as well as future projections, with detail at the level of ministry, project and province. The Ministry of Finance has tried to be realistic […]

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Poppy field in Helmand. Photo: AAN Staff

A Low-Risk Crop in a High-Risk Environment: Annual opium survey shows Afghan poppy cultivation at a record high

Jelena Bjelica

More opium was grown and more opium paste produced in Afghanistan in 2017 than in any year since the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994. The UNODC’s annual Afghanistan Opium Survey, released today, has shown that 328,000 hectares of land were used to grow poppy this year, an increase […]

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An improvised cave school on the outskirts of Bamyan city, for the IDP children from Maidan Wardak who in prolonged displacement in Bamyan. Photo: Jelena Bjelica, May 2016.

Education, an Ideal Corrupted: An assessment of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education

Jelena Bjelica

The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), an independent anti-corruption body in Afghanistan, recently released its ‘vulnerability to corruption’ assessment of the Ministry of Education. The assessment points to 36 different types of corruption within the education sector, highlighting that corruption has become endemic in the last 10 to 15 years and that malpractice is systemic […]

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Afghan Government Revenue Continues to Grow: A bright spot in a weak economy

Bill Byrd M Khalid Payenda

In the first eight months of 2017, Afghan government revenues grew by nearly 13 per cent compared to the same period of 2016. This follows on from strong revenue performances in 2015 and 2016 and is one of the few positive trends in the Afghan economy, in contrast to its continuing weak overall showing in […]

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AAN Q&A: An established industry – Basic facts about Afghanistan’s opium-driven economy

Jelena Bjelica

Afghanistan’s unflattering label – the world’s leading producer of opium and its derivatives, morphine and heroin – has proved hard to remove. Over the last ten years, opium cultivation has increased steadily reaching unprecedented highs, whilst eradication levels have been decreasing and the country has slowly slid into more severe poverty. To see where Afghanistan […]

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National Cricket Stadium, Kabul. Photo: US Embassy Kabul (2010). Licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Great Game: The rise of Afghan cricket from exodus and war

Kate Clark Sudhansu Verma

Afghanistan continues to make inroads into the world of cricket. The men’s team has progressed from being a disorganised band of reckless hitters of the ball in the early 2000s to a well-balanced team. Two Afghans recently got contracts to play in the biggest cricket league in the world, the Indian Premier League, with deals […]

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