Afghanistan’s economy and people have suffered an overwhelming shock since the Taliban takeover last August. The ongoing crisis has been driven by the cutoff of development aid, existing international sanctions and the freezing of Afghan foreign exchange reserves. This has sparked the incipient collapse of the private sector, banking system and the urban economy in particular — precipitating enormous humanitarian needs. The dire situation highlights the critical need for immediate action by the United States and international community to help forestall a complete economic collapse and mitigate the impact on millions of Afghans. 

Note: Due to a technical malfunction, there is no audio in the video recording from 03:17 to 05:45.

While there are major barriers to collecting reliable information on the Afghan economy under the current conditions, the World Bank has resumed collecting and analyzing economic data. Their findings are encapsulated in two new reports: a survey of 100 Afghan private firms and the World Bank’s first Afghanistan Development Update since the Taliban takeover. 

On April 13, USIP held a discussion on the economic situation in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal, the travails of the Afghan private sector and prospects for the future. Experts from the World Bank outlined their newly released reports and — joined by other Afghanistan experts — discussed the key problems facing private businesses, as well as what Afghan authorities and international partners can and should do to prevent further economic deterioration.

Join the conversation on Twitter with #AfghanistanUSIP.

Speakers

William Byrd, moderator
Senior Expert, Afghanistan, U.S Institute of Peace 

Tobias Haque
Lead Economist for Afghanistan, the World Bank

Naheed Sarabi 
Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Republic of Afghanistan

Andrea Mario Dall'Olio
Lead Country Economist for Afghanistan, the World Bank 

Jeffrey Grieco
President & CEO, Afghan American Chamber of Commerce 

Related Publications

Wrestling with a Humanitarian Dilemma in Afghanistan

Wrestling with a Humanitarian Dilemma in Afghanistan

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Recent decrees by the Taliban barring Afghan women from attending university or working in NGOs are severely damaging the country both socially and economically, especially coming atop a ban on girls’ secondary education last year. The marginalization of half the population also highlights the “humanitarian dilemma” that aid donors and international agencies face: Afghanistan is highly dependent on humanitarian assistance, not only for saving lives and easing deprivation but also to stabilize its economy. The quandary for international donors is what to do when alleviating suffering benefits the Afghan economy and thereby the Taliban regime, even when that regime is harming its own people?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics

Can the Taliban’s Brazen Assault on Afghan Women Be Stopped?

Can the Taliban’s Brazen Assault on Afghan Women Be Stopped?

Thursday, January 12, 2023

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Kate Bateman;  Andrew Watkins;  Scott Worden

The Taliban marked the New Year by doubling down on their severe, ever-growing restrictions on women’s rights. On December 20, they banned women from all universities — adding to their prior ban on girls attending middle and high school. Then the Taliban announced on December 24 that women cannot work for NGOs, including humanitarian organizations that are providing vital food and basic health services to the population that is now projected at 90 percent below the poverty rate. Western and regional governments have responded with uncommonly unified outrage and many humanitarian organizations have suspended their operations until women are allowed to return to their jobs.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

The Taliban Continue to Tighten Their Grip on Afghan Women and Girls

The Taliban Continue to Tighten Their Grip on Afghan Women and Girls

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Scott Worden

Since the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover of Afghanistan, they have ratcheted up restrictions on women and girls as the group consolidates power. These restrictions include limitations on employment, education, public interactions and other fundamental rights such as access to justice. These restrictions have only tightened over time with increasingly draconian enforcement — the latest being public floggings that harken back to the Taliban’s 1990s rule. Amid the U.N.’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, USIP has compiled a comprehensive archive of Taliban decrees and public statements on the treatment of women and girls. While leaders and activists around the globe strategize and develop plans to address gender-based violence in their respective countries, Afghanistan stands out as a worst-case example, with two decades of hard-won progress rapidly unwinding.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

View All Publications