Hunger has always been the root cause of global unrest. There has been always a link between hunger and global security. Fighting to end hunger among the nations worldwide is the first most important step in ensuring the global security and even achieving peace among the nations. Perhaps, there could be no permanent global peace as long as two-third of our human families is daily under the dominant of world’s worst killers, “Hunger” and famine. In fact, hunger and Insecurity are the worst threat to peace and security.
Who are the poor? Countless numbers of babies who are born in poor parents have grown up as poor. Many became poor due to hard circumstances that dominated Afghanistan in the last decades of war and constant drought. Most of them belong to those families whose breadwinners died, murdered, massacred or became permanently disabled in the fight against Taliban or in civil war. When everything most of the families own is lost in a natural disaster or in a communal violence. When one’s possessions are taken away because one is powerless, voiceless or unable to repay money borrowed to farm a land or to pay for a girl’s dowry or to pay for curing a killer illness. When one is born with disability and no one is ready to support the disabled. When the head of a household suffers from unemployment and can’t earn enough to fulfill the gap. They are the common faces of poverty in Afghanistan.
Kabul has been dominated by various threats and challenges in the past decades due to unbroken war, and other evils such as discrimination, hunger and famine. As a result, thousands of families left the country and immigrated to neighboring countries for their survival. As, Afghanistan is steeped in bold challenges, there is another growing threat to both its political and social stability “Hunger”. Beggers are increasing on Kabul streets, children and women are in grave situation and yet there has not been any single concern over this crisis; neither by Afghan government nor by any other humanitarian NGO on the ground.
Our respected government authorities have not even insight about the situation, because they have never seen the worst face of hunger in their whole life time. Perhaps, they never bother to walk down once on the streets so that they would become aware of the sufferings that this war-torn nation faces. Why even bother with poverty? The region faces major issues like, terrorism, communal violence, HIV/AIDS, restless youth, deforestation, worst ever pollution, road accidents, shortages, corruption, fighting, unstable neighbors, Taliban-led insurgency and so on.
Let’s begin with the poor, voiceless and powerless parent’s children who from early morning till midnight are running about the streets, asking the drivers to clean their cars for one AF and asking for alms from the people on the streets. Most of them are malnourished and seldom receive nutritious food. Hunger and famine damage their brain and retard both their mental and physical growth.
They are deprived from getting education and other social benefits. Later, when they grow up, they remain weak, get frequently sick, and have little or no education at all for choosing the right path towards a better and sustainable future just like rich citizens.
Similarly, this nation has repeatedly identified poor and unemployed and these are the driving forces behind insecurity and instability. According to a recent Oxfam study, “seventy percent of Afghans surveyed face poverty and unemployment, as the major cause of the conflict in the region.” Some people participate in insurgent activities to acquire an income. Joining anti-government oppositions or undertaking other illegal activities, such as drug production and trafficking, is often more well-paid, and with immediate returns, than struggling with farming or working in the informal sector for low wages while a fortunate daily laborer earns a maximum of 4$ a day.
Moreover, this is broadly believed that poverty in Afghanistan is both a cause and a consequence of the exclusion faced by a high proportion. The everyday reality on streets and pathways are obscured by poverty statistics is that the people are often hungry and that they have limited access to health care. Most of them cannot read or write and some may even sell a child, probably a girl to feed the rest of the family. Their children are begging or working instead of going to school, and they are more vulnerable to violence as they lack the protection that patronage corruption and alternative security arrangements.
There are debates in every official meeting and conference on how to confront the Taliban or other insurgent fighters or invest on short-term development process. But fighting hunger and helping the poor and voiceless people has never been under the debate or if it was, yet nothing helpful has happened as this persistently continues to affect the lives of people and security situation in the region. Local people due to hunger are joining the Taliban or other fighting groups. While the government authorities are talking about the rise in insecurity, they must understand that investment on poor families may guarantee a permanent peace and stability.
This investment means better educated societies, more stable societies and the chance for better economic growth. Escalation of food aid in Afghanistan, means reducing the level of death, insecurity and other killer disease, which are the cause for illegal earnings due to lack of access to basic food services, unemployment and hunger. Perhaps, Afghanistan doesn’t need guns for killing, but rather food and education through which they can kill the killer “Hunger”.
Today poverty and hunger kill more Afghans than those of armed conflicts or suicide bombers. The region has the world’s second-highest maternal mortality rate, the third-highest child mortality rate.
Therefore, if we do not help the infants and toddlers of the poor, we will end up supporting youths and adults of poor competence. And this creates a problem. When a poor child grows up to be an adult, he/she will likely remain uneducated, untrained and unemployed for the rest of his/her life. Surrounded by such circumstance, these adults can be persuaded to carry out violent acts or become terrorists or undertake unhealthy or dangerous activities that will create both social and political unrest in a region as of now and this will likely portend both social and political unrest and drive the nations into Stone Age.
In fact, poverty is paralyzing Afghanistan. The world must pay more attention towards it. The debates on peace process and other political issues have long been going on but they have persuaded no convenient achievement, instead worsen the situation. Now is the time that the government and the international community pay little more attention on fighting the poverty. The region will lose more individuals if the international community and other donating organizations on the ground keep silent. All those who feel responsible for protecting a life, now is the time to take an initiative for saving the lives of Afghan children, women and families who live in grave hunger.
The Article First Published in Daily Outlook Afghanistan Group of Newspapers on May 21, 2012.