The recently-launched Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP) was set up as a mechanism to promote rural employment and reduce poverty through market-led growth. However, the limitations of both agriculture and rural livelihood diversification as a path to prosperity raise serious questions about the AREDP’s ability to achieve its goals. The results of a recent AREU study on rural livelihood security suggest that the vision of an agriculturally-led economic transformation has borne little fruit over the course of the past decade, with livelihood improvement often closely tied to engagement with urban economies and rural diversification being primarily a coping strategy to mitigate agricultural failure.
The study tracked the livelihoods of 64 households in eight villages distributed across Kandahar, Badakhshan and Sar-i-Pul Provinces from 2002-10, with supporting village-level data from three communities in Faryab Province.
Pain, A. Beyond the market : can the AREDP transform Afghanistan’s rural non-farm economy? Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), (2011)