This paper demonstrates how the critical link between social relationships and the security of rural livelihoods in Afghanistan is overlooked—both in national policy documents, and the programme-based solutions they engender. It is based on AREU research on rural livelihoods in Kandahar, Badakhshan, Sar-i-Pul and Faryab (hereafter referred to as “the study”) to illustrate the social complexity of Afghan village life—a complexity that is neither understood nor acknowledged by current national programmes. This has consequences, both for achieving programme objectives and, more importantly, for how those objectives are defined. Such programmes are often informed by simplistic conceptions of poverty reduction and rural development which are divorced from an understanding of how power and social inequalities help create and maintain poverty. As a consequence, these interventions can do little more than address outward symptoms of poverty, such as a lack of inputs or information, and may even cause harm if they are used to reinforce existing inequalities. The study’s evidence and this paper’s review of current policy documents point to the need to re-evaluate how poverty is defined and the types of solutions offered, in order to improve the effectiveness and equity of efforts to reduce poverty and livelihood insecurity.
Kantor, P.; Pain, A. Poverty in Afghan policy : enhancing solutions through better defining the problem. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), (2010)