Set to Receive $16 Billion, Is the Afghan Economy Aid-Dependent?

World leaders have pledged $16 billion in foreign aid over the next four years, but observers say past money has been poorly spent and that many businesses don't even have electricity. 

What's the Latest Development?


At a meeting in Tokyo over the weekend, about 70 nations pledged to give Afghanistan an additional $16 billion in foreign aid, but questions linger about the effectiveness of such help: "Despite the improvements foreign aid has brought to Afghanistan, it’s also managed to place the economy in a perilous position where it is dependent on aid for its existence. Presently 90 percent of the Afghan government’s budget depends on foreign aid and money from the international donor community and military spending makes up about 97 percent of the country’s GDP."

What's the Big Idea?

For years, Afghans employed in non-governmental organizations received wages above the market average, but when foreign aid dollars dry up, so to do employment opportunities. What has been lacking in reconstruction efforts is an emphasis on creating a self-sustaining economy with a reliable infrastructure. Ensuring that businesses have ready access to electricity is an essential first step. "Billions of dollars have been spent in Afghanistan, but what have we gotten as a benefit?" says Mohammad Kabir Darwaish, an independent economic analyst in Kandahar. "We spent all this money, but the main thing that can support our economy is electricity and it has not been built."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less