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 Of the 26.5 million people in Afghanistan, approximately 20.1 million persons live within rural areas. Given the lack of accessibility to basic services in rural areas, it is unsurprising that overall, the standard of living in Afghanistan, measured in terms of gross national income (GNI) per capita, one of the indicators comprising the human development index (HDI), is very low even in comparison to other low HDI countries according to the UNDP. GNI per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity) was USD 1,885 as compared to USD 3,085 for low HDI countries and USD 5,605 in South Asia (UNDP, 2015).

Poverty is defined in Afghanistan vis-à-vis the national average poverty line which is set at AFN 1,253 per person per month (CSOA & The World Bank, 2010). In 2011, 35.8% of the population was estimated to be living below the national poverty line of which 38.3% of people were living in rural areas whereas 27.6% were in urban areas (The World Bank, 2015). Poverty in the country is further exacerbated by the poor state of education and health and has led to malnutrition becoming a major problem as more than half of Afghan children are suffering from irrevocable damage to their minds and bodies because of basic poverty limiting their access to nourishment in the first two years of life (Graham-Harrison, 2014).

Moreover, in 2015, only 55.0% of the population had access to an improved water source measured in terms of drinking water availability whereas only 32.0% of the population had access to improved sanitation facilities such as flush or ventilated improved pit latrines (The World Bank, 2015).
Additionally, great variation and often difficulties can be observed in the access available to populations living in the 13 provinces to these basic services such as safe drinking water, toilets, electricity and transport.

Given the state of the provinces, it is pertinent that development programme focusing on rural development and social protection are implemented. The focus under this head includes tackling, amongst other socioeconomic issues, unemployment and widespread poverty.