The strongest indicator of vulnerability to poverty is the region of residence. In Central Asia approximately 60% of the people live in rural areas. Of these people 30% are more likely to be poor and 50% extremely poor.

JDA is working in these rural regions where the people, in addition to being poor, also lack access to services, such as health and education. Their villages have only limited access to water and sanitation.

Area: total: 652,230 sq km
slightly smaller than Texas
Population: 29,835,392 (July 2011 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
Languages: Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Pashtu (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a Muslim 19%, other 1%
Age Structure: 0-14 years: 42.3%
15-64 years: 55.3%
65 years and over: 2.4%
Life Expectancy Male: 44.79 years
Life Expectancy Female: 45.25 years (2011 est.)
Birth Rate: 37.83 births /1,000 population
Infant Mortality Rate: 149.2 deaths /1,000 live births
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population : 28.1%
Female: 12.6% (2000 est.)
Male: 43.1%
Natural Resources: Natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones


Afghanistan has a turbulent past, invaded and conquered by the Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Tartars and British.

The war with Russia caused over a million people to lose their lives, and when the Russians withdrew in 1989, they subsequently left the country in a turmoil of refugees and poverty.

Internal fighting continued between varied mujahidin factions, giving rise to a state of internal conflict from regional and ethnic warlords that eventually spawned the Taliban. The totalitarian control and social oppression ended when United States and the allied military forces invaded the country shortly after the September 11 attacks.

Even with a new government, Afghanistan's future is still very uncertain, especially with America's war on terrorism, and its on-going battles with the remaining followers of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. The people of Afghanistan are eternally grateful for the allied military and especially the US for the freedom they gained with the defeat of the Taliban. They are hard working people and striving to rebuild their nation.

JDA started work in Afghanistan in December 2001. It had been anticipated for more than eight years that opportunities for JDA's involvement with the Afghan nation would come, but who would have realized the tragic events of September 11, 2001 would open the doors. Thousands of tons of food aid, clothing and shelter items, benefiting over 176,000 people, were sent from Uzbekistan across the "Freedom Bridge" linking the two nations. The road to recovery of Afghanistan is long, multi-tiered, still needing inputs of relief aid, rehabilitation of infrastructure and transformational development projects. It will require much perseverance and large inputs from many organizations such as JDA with the assistance of multiple donors.


Central Asia