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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Quick Impact, Quick Collapse

Quick Impact, Quick Collapse

by freeform | May 11, 2010

Every half hour, an average of one Afghan woman dies from
pregnancy-related complications, another dies of tuberculosis and 14
children die, largely from preventable causes. Eight years after the fall of the Taliban, the
humanitarian and development needs in Afghanistan remain acute.

Undoubtedly, Afghans have seen some improvements,
particularly in the expansion of access to healthcare and education. While it costs
approximately $1 million a year to support the deployment of one US soldier in Afghanistan,
an average of just $93 in development aid has been spent per Afghan per year over
the past seven years. Far too much aid has focused on ‘quick fixes and band-aid
approaches rather than on what will produce positive and lasting results for Afghans over the
long term.

As political pressures to ‘show results in troop
contributing countries intensify, more and more assistance is being channelled through military
actors to ‘win hearts and minds while efforts to address the underlying causes of poverty and
repair the destruction wrought by three decades of conflict and disorder are being
sidelined. Development projects implemented with military money or through
military-dominated structures aim to achieve fast results but are often poorly executed, inappropriate
and do not have sufficient community involvement to make them sustainable. There is
little evidence this approach is generating stability and, in some cases, military
involvement in development activities is, paradoxically, putting Afghan lives further at risk as
these projects quickly become targeted by anti-government elements.

As seven non-governmental organizations, working in
Afghanistan for up to fifty years and currently serving over 5 million Afghans across the
country, we are deeply concerned about the harmful effects of this increasingly militarized aid
strategy. As leaders from 70 nations gather in London to debate the future of Afghanistan, we
urge them to revaluate this approach to development and reconstruction.

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