COVID-19 Could Push Afghan Poverty Rates To 70%: UNDP

The COVID-19 pandemic so gravely threatens already impoverished Afghanistan that warring factions should do “whatever it takes” to defuse conflict and transparently redirect resources to invest in people, according to a new assessment by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report.

The report states that COVID-19 could push Afghanistan’s poverty rate to nearly 70%, straining the country’s meager health system and demanding interventions far beyond what the government could afford.

“To create fiscal space, the intensity of conflict needs to be reduced – doing whatever it takes, including previously unprecedented political choices to join forces against a common enemy, the virus, to save lives,” the report notes as a medium-term measure of emergency intervention.

It recommends that the saved resources need to be recycled to the people “equitably in all regions, and transparently to build trust,” requiring the government to work with the anti-government forces.

This also represents an opportunity to fundamentally transform and strengthen the Afghan economy, which could prompt “more generous pledges” at the November 2020 Afghan donor conference in Geneva, the study says.

“Demonstrating that extraordinary times have led to extraordinary decisions from the country’s decision-makers would also greatly strengthen the case for enhanced foreign assistance,” ahead of the November 2020 Afghan donor conference in November, UNDP Resident Representative Abdallah Al Dardari said.

The reports projects that $250 million would be required by the government to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which measures taking months of implementation.

Addressing socio-economic impacts of the pandemic through income support and other measures even for six months would require funds far beyond what the government can provide.

It concludes that reducing waste and adopting sound new fiscal, monetary, financial, trade, and private sector development policies to counter the impact of Coronavirus and set the economy on a sustainable, equitable medium- and longer-term path will be vital for the Afghan government.

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