Although Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources, poverty is one of the great issues challenging Afghan people. The withdrawal of many NGOs from the country after the US-led NATO’s military mission ended in 2014, the economic constraints and unemployment were multiplied in Afghanistan.
As a result of unmitigated economic problems and unemployment, a large number of Afghan manpower flocked to foreign countries since there were no effective mechanism from the government to alleviate poverty. The question is that what mechanism should Afghan government adopt to overcome the economic plight?
To know the answer, one needs to view the China’s long-term poverty alleviation plan which has been highly fruitful for this country and more than 68 million people were lifted out of poverty only within the past five years. In China not only provinces but also cities, villages and counties are geared toward poverty alleviation and rural development is moving rapidly. One’s jaw will drop while visiting the farthest province of China with all those tall infrastructures, mammoth enterprises, high technologies and indescribable facilities.
On my three-day visit from four cities of China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, along with Asian journalists, I was amazed at the constructions and development and the way Chinese officials seek to lift people out of poverty. They have built or facilitated traders to build colossal manufacturing companies, tourist cities, pilot zone and economic belt, giant airports, regional hub for international shipping and logistics, and strategic pivot on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
In China, Guangxi is third among provincial level regions in the number of people living in poverty, although it had lifted 8.09 million people out of poverty from 2013 to 2017, as Chinese deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Guangxi committee Sun Dawei said. “To realize our goal of totally lifting our people out of poverty in the next three years, we have to lift at least one million people out of poverty each year,” said Sun in his meeting with 45 journalists from some 40 media organizations.
Sun said that Guangxi was ranked among the first seven positions nationwide over the last two years. “In 2017, Guangxi was at fourth place. We are among one of the eight best provinces and regions that have done good job in terms of poverty alleviation,” he added. According to him, Guangxi officials have full confidence to win the battle of poverty alleviation campaign and this province is continuously making economic and social progress. Further, he said China would build an important gateway connecting the Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road and promote its trade with ASEAN countries through building international passage. Annually, every province of China is believed to attract millions of tourists for their unique characteristics and magnetism.
The poverty alleviation campaign will be fulfilled in 2020 lifting all the Chinese out of poverty. To view the rapid development, rural rehabilitation and colossal constructions, alleviating poverty is no challenge for the Chinese government.
Such way of campaigning against poverty will be an eye-opener for Afghan government. It is a real pity to see that the resources remain untapped in Afghanistan despite the fact that millions of people suffer from poverty and hunger. According to popular belief, if the mineral resources of Afghanistan were exploited and utilized, the bulk of economic challenges would be resolved. They have to be excavated and utilized, under close scrutiny, for constructions before being smuggled by corrupt individuals and militant groups.
Secondly, Afghanistan has many ancient monuments and rich museums but only a few tourists. To attract tourists and enhance the country’s economy, the government will have to pay especial attention to those artifacts and monuments and put them on exhibition. A strong economy will also lead to a better security situation in the country.
Meanwhile, despite having large arable lands, the agriculture is not encouraged enough in Afghanistan and many villages are simply sandwiched between valleys and mountains with large unemployed population. Encouraging agriculture and creating job via this method is one the lessons can be learnt from our neighboring country China. That is, China creates job for rural residents in remote areas through facilitating agriculture. This way, even old men and women are employed in agricultural fields.
But if you travel only from Kabul to Kandahar, you will see thousands of kilometers of untapped lands. In case of not being arable, they can be used for many other purposes. It is rightly said that Afghanistan is a hungry man lying on gold. However, this country needs to get itself out of hunger through using this gold the same as a wise man.
To be continued…