Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Poverty and old age: The struggle of Afghanistan’s senior citizens

2 min

Kabul Now, 23 March 2023

Some interesting figures about Afghanistan’s elderly population and retirees, including IRoA and Taleban budget lines for this group, by the English branch of exile online newspaper Etilaat-e Ruz:

Out of an estimated population of 34 million, nearly 1.5 million are older people, with 58.64% being men and 41.36% women. However, the aging population of Afghanistan may be much higher than estimated, as the Taliban’s figures are based on the 2002 census.

Retired government employees are the only elderly individuals receiving pensions, leaving many without support. (…)

Previous government efforts to address the aging population’s needs have been unsuccessful. In 2009, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced an unfinished plan to “provide services to the elderly at home,” while in 2010, the Afghan Red Crescent Society proposed establishing a retirement home for the elderly, which was met with opposition by the Senate, citing cultural and religious reasons.


Over the past eighteen months, since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the country’s aging population has been facing unprecedented challenges. While the Taliban has not issued any official statements concerning the care of the elderly, a credible source from the Taliban’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs confirmed that there are no government-operated elder care centers in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the Afghan Red Crescent Society has stated on its website that its social welfare center department is responsible for caring for individuals who cannot meet their basic needs. (…)

Following protests by retirees, the Taliban announced they are examining the Sharia (Islamic) basis for pensions. Subsequently, it was reported that muftis (Islamic Jurists) had prepared a pension plan and submitted it to the Taliban cabinet, which approved the proposal in October 2022. However, the program still requires the approval of its supreme leader, Hebatullah Akhundzadeh. BBC Farsi (Persian) has reported, citing the Taliban’s Ministry of Finance, that Akhundzadeh has yet to approve the plan.

The Taliban Ministry of Finance has allocated a budget of four billion Afghanis (equivalent to $46 million) to cover two years’ worth of retired employees’ salaries, amounting to two billion Afghanis annually for at least 150,000 retired workers. In contrast, the previous government estimated that 46.2 billion Afghanis (approximately $530 million) would be required to pay pensions for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, with 22.4 billion Afghanis (around $257 million) needed in 2021 and 23.8 billion Afghanis (about $273 million) in 2022. If the Taliban leader approves the proposed plan, retirees’ pensions could be reduced by up to 90 percent.