Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kiva Passport Series: Afghanistan

Welcome to the new Kiva Passport Series! Each month we will be featuring a new country to provide more insight into some of the remarkable places we work around the world.

Map of Afghanistan
Photo Source: CIA The World Factbook

Capital: Kabul
Official Language(s): Dari (Farsi) and Pashto
Government: Islamic Republic
Population (2009): 28,150,000
GDP (2009): PPP- $935 per capita; Nominal- $486 per capita
Children playing in the countryside
Photo Credit: Jawid Habib

The landlocked country stands bordered by Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, Iran to the west, Pakistan to the south, and the People's Republic of China to the east.

Two weeks before this photo was taken the family lost their father/husband to gastrointestinal cancer
Photo Credit: Jawid Habib

The spread of poverty in Afghanistan is considerably focused in the rural and urban areas. According to the government, an estimated 42% of the population lives below the national poverty line, with nearly another 20% of the population attempting to balance on the line that puts them at risk of falling into poverty as well.

After the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan has become the epicenter for countless conflicts, invasions, and wars. The basic lack of resources has led the nation into a downward spiral towards poverty. With little arable land and poor climate conditions, Afghanistan's population has lost much of its livelihood. In a nation where 90% of women and 63% of men are unable to read and write, where there is inadequate land ownership, and where there is a lack of irrigation infrastructure, Afghanistan's population is undeniably poor.

Midday Rest. June, 2009. Herat, Afghanistan
Photo Credit: Jawid Habib

Indian, Central Asian and Iranian sounds have influenced Afghanistan's rich musical heritage. The rubab, a lute-like instrument, is considered to be the national instrument--called the "lion" of instruments.

Men praying at a local mosque
Photo Credit: Jawid Habib

Today, a vast majority of Afghans are Muslim, but interestingly enough Buddhism once thrived in the region until the 10th century AD--spreading from India into the Bamiyan Valley.

Afghan cuisine is a fusion of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Iranian and Indian flavors. A typical meal consists of rice served with a thick sauce cooked with lamb, beef or chicken. The classic Afghan dish, Qabili Palao, consists of raisins, carrots, and lamb with rice. With it's blend of flavors, Afghan cuisine is rich with the traditions of the region.

People gathering at a local bazaar
Photo Credit: Jawid Habib

A Night in Kohistan
By: Khalili

On the mountain's slope
The assembled trees form a dark green mass
The stars twinkle
And the moonlight adorns the Valley
It is a night of youth and love
From the grassy meads, covered with wild flowers
Where the nightingales sing
I hear the heavenly melody of the shepherd's flute