Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The growing discontent in Afghanistan

Discontent with government is growing in Afghanistan. Those of us in the West think that they are just upset at us, but the Afghan people also upset with their own leaders. Many view all of the development aid coming into the country as only benefiting the rich, and statistics agree with them.

From this BBC article, reporter Peter Greste tells us the malnutrition that one doctors sees that helps to fuel the discontent.

Dr Aslam Fawad is despairing. Each day he walks the malnutrition ward, watching more and more patients arrive from across this otherwise fertile farming district.

Poverty is so deep that even many farmers are unable to feed their families.

Dr Fawad does his best to help, but the dire state of the economy means that some patients keep returning, time after time.

"The malnutrition problem in Afghanistan, and especially Parwan province, is very bad. That's because of the years of fighting, the damage to our infrastructure and rising unemployment.

"It's all helped to make things worse," he said.

The statistics bear him out: officially, unemployment is about 40%, though it is probably far higher than that; of those who do have a job in Parwan, 45% earn less than $1 a day; chronic malnutrition for children under five across Afghanistan is 54%.

And perhaps most surprising of all, on a UN scale of human development indicators, Afghanistan has slipped from 117th in the world, to 181st - second from the bottom - since the Taliban were ousted.

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