Sachs: ‘There hasn’t been two seconds of intelligent discussion about living standards in Afghanistan’

Nieman Watchdog > Ask This > 'There hasn't been two seconds of intelligent discussion about living standards in Afghanistan'

Afghanistan is an economic basket case. The blurb says correctly:

‘ The poverty in Afghanistan is almost beyond imagining. Thirty Afghans die from TB every day; life expectancy is 43 years; per capita income is $426; only 13% have access to sanitary drinking water; fewer than one in four are literate; access to electricity is among the lowest in the world. Conditions for women are brutal. If Obama plans to address these issues, he’s pretty much keeping it secret, points out world poverty expert Jeffrey Sachs. ‘

To be fair, Obama is calling for much more civilian development, and budgeting money for it. But the real surge that is needed isn’t troops, it is Grameen Bank specialists and peace corps volunteers (in the north where they’d be safe).

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7 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, aid and development workers are prime targets for Taliban terrorism…they don't want improvement in the situation because that would bring about more support for the government.

  2. On the other hand, life expectancy in Iran has shot up along with access to healthcare, electricity, clean water and paved roads. Guess the Brits should never have cleaved Afghanistan off of Iran not invaded Iran when Iran tried to reclaim Afghanistan.

  3. link to democracynow.org

    Democracy 3, 2009

    As Troop Escalation Begins, Relief Groups Decry Militarization of US Aid to Afghanistan

    As President Obama prepares to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, aid agencies have issued a warning about what they describe as the increasing militarization of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Oxfam, CARE International and other groups say humanitarian aid is often being used by the United States and other nations as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and that military plans are dictating how aid is distributed. We speak to Lex Kassenberg, who has overseen CARE International’s efforts in Afghanistan since 2006.

  4. "Unfortunately, aid and development workers are prime targets for Taliban terrorism…they don't want improvement in the situation because that would bring about more support for the government."

    There is no evidence that this is so.

  5. 1. Free Secular Literacy for All

    "Asked about the biggest threat to their groups' survival, a militant says that 'free secular education for all' leading to an 'increase in the literacy rate' is the gravest threat to the survival of the jihadi groups in Pakistan."

    Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill
    by Jessica Stern (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), page 230

    2. Supported by a Three Cups of Tea School Building Program

    School building has been a successful tactic in Aghanistan, Pakistan, and "Greater Pashtunistan" for at least the last century. Adbul Ghaffar "Badshah" Khan used it to build the world's first non-violent army in the Northwest Frontier Provinces, a predominantly Islamic Non-Violent Army

    I believe the Taliban learned from his example.

    3. Activating the Under-Utilized Installed Solar Capacity in Afghanistan – There are over 700,000 solar/dynamo radios distributed all around Afghanistan which could charge AA and other standard size batteries with one simple modification. They would then become reliable sources of low voltage DC power day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.

    A solar/dynamo can easily and affordably power the flashlight, radio, cell phone, and extra set of batteries we are supposed to have on hand in case of emergency. This is why Solar IS Civil Defense as well as a significant rise in the standard of living of billions of people around the world.

    About a quarter of the world's population does not now have access to electricity.

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