File image. Afghan children play outside their home in a camp for internally displaced families in Kabul, Afghanistan on 18 January, 2021 (Photo credit: AP/Rhamat Gul)
Afghanistan’s per capita income fell by more than a third in the last quarter of 2021, according to a World Bank semi-annual regional update released on 14 April.
“One of the poorest countries in the world just got a lot poorer,” assured Tobias Haque, the World Bank’s chief economist for the country.
Haque said in a briefing that ”the isolation of the Afghan economy following the political crisis that began last August risks severe poverty, displacement, fragility and threats of extremism.”
The World Bank previously warned that about 37 percent of households did not have enough money to buy food. Under current conditions, the outlook for the economy is dire, and the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita could shrink by 34 percent by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, 75 percent of the population does not get enough food and 58 percent do not have shelter.
The UN said that the number of severely hungry people in Afghanistan rose to 23 million in March and that the situation mostly affects children, with 3.5 million children in need of nutritional treatment.
Health officials have also revealed that since January 2022 over 13,000 newborn babies have died as a result of malnutrition and the gradual collapse of the healthcare sector.
Months after the Taliban victory against the US-backed Afghan army, Afghanistan’s economic future remains gloomy as 97 percent of Afghans could fall below the poverty line by mid-2022.
A poll by the US-based Gallup analytics firm highlights the record figure. However, the percentage could be higher as the economy remains on a tailspin due to the effect of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine over global food markets.
The US also seized billions of dollars of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves, depriving the central Asian nation of much-needed resources.
US sanctions have decimated the Afghan economy, one that was already crippled by two decades of war by the US. The situation has been further worsened by droughts that have hit some regions of Afghanistan over the past three years.
The scenario is increasingly difficult with foreign aid stagnating, the economy collapsing, banking and financial systems crippled, and millions of jobs lost.