CSB-AFG[1] - civil society briefs overvieW of civil society...

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OVERVIEW OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS Country Context Afghanistan is a mountainous landlocked country bordered by Iran, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It covers about 647,500 square kilometers. Its capital and largest city is Kabul. The majority of Afghanistan’s 32 million inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, although there is a sizeable Shia Muslim community. Afghanistan has several ethnic groups, the largest being Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik, Turkmen, and Uzbek. More than 40% of the population is under age 15. Dari and Pashto are the country’s official languages. One of two Afghans can be classified as poor. Life expectancy is less than 43 years and the literacy rate is just 28%. 1 One in five children dies before age five, and one woman dies approximately every 30 minutes from pregnancy-related causes. Infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world. Preventable diseases cause 80% of the deaths of children under five. About half of this same age group is physically stunted due to chronic malnutrition, and some 10% suffer acute malnutrition. Only 25% of the population has access to clean drinking water—one in eight children die from lack of the resource. 2 Afghanistan is highly dependent on farming and raising livestock. The major food crops produced are corn, rice, barley, wheat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. The biggest industrial crops are cotton, tobacco, madder, castor beans, and sugar beets. Leading exports include AFGHANISTAN wool and prized Karakul skins. Afghanistan is rich in natural resources, few of which are currently exploited. The country has numerous mineral and precious stone deposits, as well as natural gas and some oil reserves. In 2007, Afghanistan’s poppy fields produced up to 93% of the world’s total supply of opium, 3 making drug trafficking the biggest income source. 4 Government On 9 October 2004, Afghanistan held its first national democratic presidential election. More than 8 million Afghans voted, 41% of them women. Hamid Karzai was inaugurated as President on 7 December 2004. National parliamentary elections were held on 18 September 2005 for the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) of Afghanistan’s bicameral National Assembly, as well as for the country’s 34 provincial councils. About 53% of the 12.5 million registered voters participated in the elections. The Afghan Constitution provides for the indirect election of the National Assembly’s Meshrano Jirga (upper house) by the provincial councils and by reserved presidential appointments. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005, thus completing the process of political normalization outlined in the Bonn Agreement following the September 2001 ouster of the former Taliban regime. 5
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This note was uploaded on 11/24/2011 for the course ECON 345 taught by Professor Jakiela during the Fall '11 term at Maryland.

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CSB-AFG[1] - civil society briefs overvieW of civil society...

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