Afghanistan illustrates the devastating impact of decades of war and conflict on development. This land-locked country has been through 23 years of war, virtually without pause. As a result, every single aspect of development – from the incidence of poverty, to health care, agriculture, environment, and education has been adversely affected. Afghanistan today is not just one of the poorest countries in the world, but also has the worst human development indicators, comparable to only two equally war Stressed countries in Africa – Sierra Leone and Angola. In 2000, when countries around the world agreed to the Millennium Development Goals, Afghanistan was embroiled in war and did not participate in the 2000 UN Summit. It signed the Millennium Declaration only in 2004 and has set itself targets based on data from 2002-2004 to be achieved by 2020. An additional goal of ‘enhancing security’ had been added.

The country is now slowly on the road to recovery. It has a new constitution, an elected government and has taken the first tentative steps towards dealing with its enormous legacy of war. Four million children are now in school even as the country copes with the return of four million refugees displaced by the war. Over 60,000 former combatants have been demobilized. Yet violence and the absence of security remain the most crucial concern in Afghanistan. The economy, which had seen negative growth, is slowly recovering but continues to remain dependent on revenue from the illegal opium economy.

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