Five years on from their initial implementation, questions are being raised about the applicability of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in places of extreme poverty. This month we're taking a closer look at SDG 1: No Poverty, examining the main causes of poverty in Afghanistan, and the challenges we encounter in addressing them, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world was already off-track to end poverty by 2030 before the spread of Coronavirus, which has now caused the first increase in poverty in decades. Over 71 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty this year.

Join us as we reflect on how our projects work to end poverty in Afghanistan, and take a deeper look into how we’ve adapted our work in 2020 to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.

What is SDG 1?

SDG 1: No Poverty aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. When the 17 goals were established in 2015, more than 10 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty and, since the outbreak of COVID-19, this has been exacerbated.

The UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research projects that as many as half a billion more people globally could fall into extreme poverty as the economic consequences of the pandemic come to pass.  This clearly gives SDG 1 a renewed sense of purpose. Economic inequality, and crises like the current pandemic only intensify one another.

Made up of seven targets, SDG 1 endeavours to eradicate extreme poverty specifically, and a range of other definitions of poverty more broadly, through implementing social protection systems, creating policy frameworks at all levels and ensuring equal rights to economic resources between men and women.

SDG 1 is bold, but the dedication of governments, charitable organisations and individuals to the other SDGs - for example, SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, works to its end.

How does SDG 1 apply to Afghanistan? 

The SDGs were established with the view of being realised everywhere by 2030, irrespective of country-specific challenges.

In Afghanistan, decades of war, a predominantly rural population, and increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change make achieving SDG 1 both more urgent and strenuous than in other countries. According to a recent assessment by the United Nations Development Programme, the COVID-19 pandemic could push Afghanistan’s already extreme poverty rate from 55 per cent to 68 per cent.

In order to achieve SDG 1 in Afghanistan, we know that we must be attune to the distinct challenges in the country.

Afghanaid and SDG 1: No Poverty

All of our work falls into the following four categories, with the goal of achieving SDG 1: No Poverty:

  • Basic Services;
  • Livelihoods;
  • Emergency Assistance and Disaster Risk Reduction;
  • Gender Inclusion and Women’s Rights.

Our projects work to:

1) Provide tools and resources so locals can help themselves

“Before, I was concerned about how I would continue to feed my family during the pandemic, but now I am confident in our economic situation.” - Hafizullah, pictured.


In collaboration with the World Food Programme, we’re supporting 2,000 men and women in Badakhshan with the training, tools and seeds they need to produce more from both their land and livestock, thereby improving their ability to feed their families nutritious meals, and increasing the availability of affordable food in their local area. 

The need to improve food security has become ever more urgent as we live through the current health crisis, as are other basic services. We have set up hand-washing stations and distributed hygiene kits to families across Afghanistan to give locals the best chances of staying healthy and safe.

2) Enhance capabilities amongst people living in poverty

“Since enrolling in Afghanaid’s training, we have learnt so much. Now we have learned how to manage our natural resources, we can get much more out of our agricultural activities.” - Rahmatullah.

In addition to supporting 78,000 farmers in poverty in the past two years, we play to the strengths of individuals and communities by providing them with natural resource management training and the vocational training needed for them to start their own businesses.

3) Build infrastructure

In comparison to the rest of the world, Afghanistan ranks high for vulnerability to climate change and low for readiness - mitigating its impact on the remote, rural communities we work with is key to poverty alleviation.

We’re taking action against climate change, constructing disaster mitigation structures such as protection walls, super passages and plantations across Afghanistan to provide the best possible circumstances in which locals can thrive independently.

4) Develop integrated communities

“I took part in different types of training including Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Hazard Vulnerability Capacity Assessment, First Aid and Simulation Drills. Now, I am a professional alongside other committee members in the field of disaster, and know how to help vulnerable people and rescue them from disasters.” - Naqibullah, pictured. 

Establishing community committees and groups is central to the success of our work and puts local people at the heart of what we do.

Our projects improve the livelihoods of poor households through sustainable natural resource management - with the establishment of Rangeland Management Associations (RMAs) at their core.

What challenges are there for realising SDG 1 by 2030? 

On a systemic level, Afghanistan lacks reliable, accurate national and regional data to inform the planning and target-setting of organisations like Afghanaid. Additionally, bodies such as civil society organisations and policy and research institutions are not established enough in Afghanistan to provide NGOs with a standard policy and procedure framework. Persistent conflict and instability in the country, including the more recent fallout of COVID-19, magnify this need for concrete data and support structures. 

As for the running of Afghanaid’s programmes specifically, their success relies heavily on funding - long-term funding and resources are required to achieve SDG 1 targets. Without long-term support, we can only run shorter-term projects - these have a significant positive impact, but not in the consistent, incremental manner that will truly achieve the SDG 1 targets.

What can you do to help? 

Our supporters have ensured that we can continue to deliver projects that tackle SDG 1 in Afghanistan.

Thank you for your generosity, support and dedication to educating others about Afghanistan. Thank you for joining us in working towards SDG 1: No Poverty, especially during such testing times for everyone, but more importantly for the most vulnerable people in the world.