KABUL: With the value of Afghani currency falling, already severe economic crisis is worsening which exacerbates poverty in a country where more than half the population already does not have enough to eat.
The afghani lost more than 11 percent of its value against the United States dollar in the space of a day earlier this week, before recouping somewhat. But the market remains volatile, and the devaluation is already affecting Afghans.
Afghanistan’s economy was already troubled when the international community froze billions of dollars worth of Afghanistan’s assets abroad and stopped all international funding to the country after the Taliban seized power in mid-August amid a chaotic US and NATO troop withdrawal. The consequences have been dire for a country heavily dependent on foreign aid.
Afghanistan was also slated to access about $450m on August 23 from the International Monetary Fund, but the IMF blocked the release because of a “lack of clarity” about the country’s new rulers. Since then, international envoys have warned of a looming economic meltdown and humanitarian catastrophe.
According to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, 22.8 million of Afghanistan’s 38 million people already face acute food shortages, and malnutrition in the country is increasing. A combination of the coronavirus pandemic, a severe drought and the Taliban takeover has left many without jobs, and the currency’s sliding value has been pushing up food prices.
In the bedlam of the Herat Money Exchange market, traders frantically check the ever-changing currency rate on their mobile phones as they jostle through the crowd shouting out prices and waving wads of cash.