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Afghanistan’s Mining Industry, Crucial for Economy, Holds Risks for Women

Entrance to a mining shaft barred with stay out sign

As Afghanistan attempts to develop its economy by attracting investment to its mining sector, the already daunting conditions for women in rural areas could worsen without specific steps to address their needs. That’s the conclusion of a study funded by USIP that examined the potential ramifications for women in three mining communities in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government has long been dependent on foreign aid, failing to amass enough domestic revenue because of low tax collections in an economy weakened anyway by decades of conflict. The gap is set to widen as most foreign troops withdraw by the end of this year and international donors pull back in tandem. Development economist William Byrd, a USIP senior expert, said in a recent report that Afghanistan’s domestic revenue shortfalls might reach $1 billion this year, he said.

“Urgent measures are needed to turn around poor revenue performance, including strong signals from the top, possible exploitation of limited new revenue sources and cooperation among different agencies,” Byrd wrote in the USIP report.

Afghanistan has a wealth of natural resources -- copper, iron ore, lithium and gold, to name just a few.  The potential is huge for attracting international investment to exploit these resources. The Afghan Geological Survey, with help from a Pentagon task force, estimated in 2011 that Afghanistan holds as much as $3 trillion of untapped natural resources, according to Bloomberg News.

For the complete article, please see United States Institute for Peace.