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The US withdrawal from Afghanistan: bad news for aid agencies

According to announcements in November of 2011, the US will withdraw 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013. Other NATO countries will withdraw 10,000 altogether. However, negative effects of this withdrawal are already felt in multiple areas, aid being one of them. Whether the Afghani government is able to take on these projects is questionable.

Many aid agencies suffer losses as a result of the decreased US military presence. Financial allocation to aid agencies in Afghanistan decreased from $4 bn to $2 bn. CARE and Mercy Corps are some of these agencies, whose budgets decreased even by up to 80%. As a result, many schools were cut, adversely affecting the education of Afghani girls. More will most likely be cut in the future, as the US is to cut down on its presence in Afghanistan by 2013.

However, the Afghani government is not able to replace this vacuum with their own resources. Afghanistan has a population of over 28 million and $900 as GDP per capita. The total GDP amounted in 2010 to $27 bn. Around 79% of Afghans are dependent on agriculture. Access to electricity is still a problem for many, as are landmines. Currently only 12% women are literature, versus 43% males, which is also a small figure.

The best solution, of course, would be to keep the US money and take the US soldiers out. The Afghani government will need assistance with regard to provisions of services. Of course, development does not come at once and it rarely comes from outside, but the work these agencies have been doing is of significance to development. Education is important if companies want workers who can read manuals and record their activities and ideas. This is only one of the important factors needed for development. Health is an additional factor.

An independent functioning of service provisions would create sustainable and independent institutions in Afghanistan. Afghani schools, instead of American, would provide more jobs to the Afghanis and enable them to learn how to run and design their own curricula. With independence and increased responsibility, more learning and ideas come along. New ideas in return bring forth more development.

However, the US is undergoing large budget cuts. The US is decreasing its presence in many areas, not just the war in Afghanistan. Whereas some of these actions, such as sponsoring aid agencies, are of crucial importance to the Afghanis, it is also clear to many that the US primarily has a duty towards its citizens and their needs.

It is hard to imagine how the Afghani government will successfully undertake the work of the aid agencies. Though it is of utter most importance that they provide these services, they are faced with a great challenge, more so because the Taliban forces will not disappear once the US forces leave Afghanistan.


About Ana Ila

Ana Ila majored in Economics and Political Science from Wellesley College. She then obtained MSc in Economics from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, with a focus on Numerical MacroEconomics. Her academic interests include (but are not limited to) dynamics of interactions between interest groups and international security. She became interested in student activism because she believes young people should care about their communities and keep on improving them. Ana also, besides activism, enjoys practicing martial arts in her free time.

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