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COVID-19 wreaks havoc on livelihoods of Afghans: World Bank report 

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Photo credit: World Bank
(Last Updated On: July 16, 2020)

COVID-19 will have a profound effect on Afghanistan’s economy which is likely to contract by between 5.5 percent and 7.4 percent this year, said the World Bank in its latest biannual Afghanistan Development Update. 

According to the World Bank, this will exacerbate poverty and lead to a sharp decline in government revenue. 

“The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on the livelihoods of Afghans while undermining the government’s revenue collection and its capacity to finance comprehensive programs to save lives, protect the poor, and jumpstart the economy,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

The report titled Surviving the Storm was released on Wednesday and examines the coronavirus impacts on Afghanistan’s economic development. 

As stated in the report, COVID-19 has hit Afghanistan in the midst of a difficult political transition, an intensifying conflict, and significant uncertainty regarding future grant support. 

“While a peace agreement has been signed between the US and the Taliban, laying the foundations for negotiation of a comprehensive political settlement, Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces have intensified,” the report states. 

It also points out the future of international assistance remains in question, while the US has substantially reduced troop numbers this year, with further reductions likely. 

Current grant pledges expire at the end of 2020, and international partners are due to consider future aid commitments at an international conference in November. 

“Without progress towards a sustainable peace and commitments to continued grant support from international partners, medium-term prospects appear increasingly grim,” read the report.  

The report warns that the proportion of Afghans living in poverty may increase from 55 percent in 2017 to between 61 percent and 72 percent in 2020 because of declining incomes and the rising cost of food. The report finds that economic activity plummeted in the first half of 2020 as lockdowns and social distancing measures to curb COVID-19 negatively impacted the industry and service sectors. 

To address the impacts of the crisis, the report recommends that tightly constrained public expenditures be carefully prioritized to protect the most vulnerable and limit long-term economic damage. 

The report highlights the need for continued financial support from development partners. 

“Short-term measures are needed to support households through the current crisis, while improvements in the business regulatory environment and maintaining the core functions of government will pave the way for longer-term recovery,” said Kerali. 

“Ongoing support from development partners will help finance critical government operations and restore private sector confidence. The World Bank is working closely with the Government of Afghanistan both to implement the short-term response and lay the foundations for longer-term recovery,” Kerali added.

For full report CLICK HERE 

https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/132851594655294015/afghanistan-development-update-surviving-the-storm 

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Three new Herat factories create 500 jobs, mostly for women

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2021)

Three new factories in Herat province have been officially launched with separate production lines now in operation, local officials confirmed.

The factories, and food and dairy; another food; and a cheese factory, worth a total $10 million, will provide 500 new jobs – mostly for women.

Funded by the private sector in the industrial zone of Herat city, the inauguration of the factories was attended by guests including the minister of industry and the governor of Herat.

“With the start of the new production lines, indirectly, thousands of jobs have been created,” said Hamidullah Khadem, head of the Chamber of Industry.

According to local officials, more than 40,000 people are employed by almost 300 factories in Herat’s industrial zone.

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Government to build four dams in Zabul

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(Last Updated On: May 14, 2021)

The Afghan government said Friday that four dams would be constructed in Zabul province in order to help manage waters in the country, local officials said.

According to the officials, the dams – Mizan, Markok, Qaria Aja, and Allaudin – would be constructed at a cost of 132 million AFN.

The officials stated that the dams will be used for hydroelectric and irrigation purposes once the projects are implemented.

Ahmad Gul Rasouli, Governor of Zabul, stated that the dams could also produce between 61 to 77 MW of electricity.

The development comes as the government last month promised to begun constructions of 44 across the country this month.

According to the National Water Affairs Regulation Authority (WARA), the following dams, at an estimated cost of $600 million, would be contracted in 21 provinces.

Aghan Jan in Uruzgan; Mizan, Markok, Qaria Aja, and Allaudin in Zabul; Zardalo, Mullah Cheragh, and Chard in Ghazni; Gromby, Gorbat and Jalrez in Maidan Wardak; Gomal, Gomal Dowom, Zama, and Rustai Mirza in Paktika; Domand in Khost; Kharwar in Logar; Sori Khola in Paktia; Sultan Ibrahim and Qale Sokhta in Sar-e-Pul; Almar and Khisht Pol in Faryab; Rustai Aab in Samangan; Kantiwa and Kala Gosh in Nuristan; Aab Lory in Kandahar; Shoray, and Buzbai in Badghis; Wursaj Socha Maagh in Takhar; Dahane Mohammad Gicha in Bamiyan; Dare Bamsir in Daikundi; Shina, Zardag Bam, and Khair Maidanak in Ghor; Noor Gul and Qata Qala in Kunar; Pang Ziyan, Dare Shrasta, and Surkh in Nangarhar; Buzban in Ghor; Talkhak in Parwan; and Watan Gat in Laghman.

WARA stated that the dams, which will be used for hydroelectric and irrigation purposes, could store around 1,200 million cubic meters of water once the projects are implemented.

Once construction is complete, these dams will also irrigate an estimated 320,000 hectares of land, WARA said.

The Afghan officials said that the projects would also provide employment for thousands of people.

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ADB committed to assisting Afghanistan post troop withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2021)

The Asian Development Bank says it will continue its economic programs in Afghanistan after US and NATO troops have withdrawn.

Officials at the bank said that although the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan will create an economic vacuum, the bank is working to continue its development plans for Afghanistan.

Officials added that they are continuing their projects in the sectors of electricity, transport and agriculture.

“We have a large number of infrastructure projects, and the security of these projects is provided by the Afghan Public Protection Forces, we will continue to work,” said ADB’s Country Director for Afghanistan Narendra Singru.

On the other hand, the Afghan Chamber of Commerce says that there are economic-related concerns about the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, and some problems will remain in this area.

However, economists say continuing ADB projects in Afghanistan could address some of the economic challenges posed by the withdrawal of foreign troops.

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