By Asad Ziar
What is unemployment?
If a person is actively searching for a job and is unable to find any work this is called unemployment. It can also be defined as a situation where someone of working age is unable to find a job but who would like to be in full time employment. Unemployment is often used as a measure of the health of the economy of a nation. The most frequently cited measure of unemployment is the unemployment rate. This is the number of unemployed persons divided by the number of people in the labor force, If a Mother left work to bring up a child or if someone went into higher education, they are not working but would not be classed as unemployed as they are not actively seeking employment.
Recent scientific research findings show that unemployment can affect an individual’s psychological well-being and it can leave tremendously powerful scars on a person’s psyche. Unemployment can leave some individuals with feelings of worthlessness, lack of motivation, feelings of embarrassment, greater level of anxiety, hopelessness and increased levels of stress.
The worst adverse effect of unemployment is that a person who is unemployed has a very hard time getting hired. Companies usually hire people who already have jobs as people with jobs usually socialize in similar places and word of mouth and referrals increase their chances of getting new jobs. This really adds to the disappointment of unemployed people. Crime rates rise as people are unable to meet their needs and divorce rates often rise because people cannot solve their financial problems. In some cases because of the unemployment the youth delay their marriage age which is also a prominent social problem.
Psychological Effects of Unemployment
Unemployment is associated with elevated rates of mental and physical health problems. It increases morbidity and mortality rates, and can cause detrimental changes in family relationships and in the psychological well-being of families. Scientific studies have already pointed out that unemployment can contribute to increased rates of suicide and reduced life expectancy. Unemployment is a greater motivator to illegal and unauthorized means to receive benefits
Impact of Unemployment in Afghanistan
Unemployment has a positive effect on the rise of violence and economic instability in Afghanistan. Most Afghans believe that unemployment is the main cause of continuous insurgency in the country. There are many examples that young unemployed Afghans joined the anti government armed groups, In fact they are not joining the extremists or insurgents to follow their ideology, and sometimes they are against their ideology but they joined them to earn money to buy a loaf of bread for themselves and for their families. It is a clear fact that the killing of insurgents has not weaken the insurgent forces and they seems to be more stronger and the major reason can be the high rate of unemployment in country, which leads more of our unemployed youths to join the anti-government insurgent groups. Unemployed teens are used as suicide attackers, battle forces, or laborers for implanting Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and in some provinces unemployment has also led people to grow opium, poppy, and others are encouraged to join the extremist groups.
Afghanistan comes in the list of top 20 countries with high unemployment where the unemployment rate is estimated 35%. Unemployment & social difficulties increases the number of drug addicts, the number of drug users in Afghanistan is estimated to be as high as 1.6 million, or about 5.3 percent of the population, among the highest rates in the world. Nationwide, one in 10 urban households has at least one drug user.
In a report by United Nations (UN): One million people are food-insecure because of the on-going conflict and natural disasters. Meanwhile, an estimated 42% of the population lives on less than $1 a day, 68% have no sustainable access to improved water sources, and almost 95% are without access to improved sanitation. Some 42% of school-age children are out of school, 21% of teachers do not have the required qualifications and approximately 15% of the population has no access to the most basic health services. The fact and figures may remain the same in the next five years since both leaders of the Afghan National Unity Government are focused on their own power sharing affairs and are not paying attention to serve the nation. Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Speaker of Wolesi Jirga ( House of People) on Saturday December 20, 2014 in a plenary session stated that “ national unity government has lost its competency and place in international community and even they have brought negative effects in the field of political and economic in the country “
Job creation is a top priority in Afghanistan
President, British Afghan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (BACCI) Dr. Mohammad Hotak states “Mahatma Gandhi said ‘Poverty is the worst form of violence’ and we know that unemployment and poverty is driving our youth (68% of the population under the age of 25) to join the anti government insurgent groups or illegal armed groups with catastrophic consequences for Afghanistan and the international community. Furthermore, Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that ‘Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary’. Although Afghanistan needs international aid to meet its immediate needs but in the long-term it promotes dependency, undermines innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. “
Dr.Hotak adds “the only solution to Afghanistan’s miseries, survival and self-dependency lies in active support from Afghan government and the international community for entrepreneurship and private sector in Afghanistan, and multi-lateral trade, commerce and investment with the rest of the world to create jobs, ensure economic stability and bring peace. The easier to do business in Afghanistan, the easier to create jobs and a functioning economy.
The government of Afghanistan must understand that for example, when two friends who have worked as a lawyer and a marketing expert come together to open a consultancy startup to help clients with their legal and marketing needs, will hire an office, an admin assistant, hire a cook and security guard. These two friends without any financial or material help from government just paid $2,000 to create a limited liability company, which would cost only $25 dollars in the UK and created direct income for themselves, a landlord, a cook, security guard and an admin. Indirectly they ensured income for their wives, children, for suppliers and tax revenues for the government that can be used to feed the orphans, the widows, build schools, roads and treat the addicts of the nation. Government can never deliver value like entrepreneurs can and the least that they can do is to eliminate the bureaucratic government barriers that hinder entrepreneurship and investment. Barriers preventing such work of entrepreneurs would mean that government has to create jobs for the people in the example otherwise the lawyer will turn into an addict, marketing expert into a schizophrenic, security guards into illegal armed militia, landlord into a storage for opium and admin into an immigrant in Iran or Pakistan. The families of these people will be deprived of the most basic needs of a human life and the government will turn into a corrupt factory rather than a function institution delivering services to give its citizens a better quality of life.”
The process of registering new startups and international companies in Afghanistan should not involve entrepreneurs and businessmen being sent around to a dozen ministries, foreign embassies and requests for irrelevant complex paperwork from USA, Europe and Middle East with registration fees in thousands of dollars. This old and irrational practice has to be transformed into an efficient, technological and business friendly process that takes hours rather than days.
Similarly, Afghan government has to stand firm with its exporters and businessmen looking for lucrative markets in America and Europe. These are the people who will ensure that Afghanistan’s exports surpass its imports, creating a trade surplus as opposed to the current trade deficit. A good recent example is Omid Bahar Juice Factory of Afghanistan, which signed a multimillion dollar Kandahari pomegranate supply deal with a British company in London. This is the example of private sector transactions that will create hundreds and thousands of jobs for Afghans and transform Afghanistan from aid recipient into a self-sustaining nation. The issue that very few citizens of Afghanistan know about is that respected Afghan businessmen like the owner of Omid Bahar Juice factory and many others cannot even apply for visas in Kabul to explore new markets for their products and services. Despite sacrificing over 450 soldiers and spending billions in Afghanistan, countries such as UK do not even issue visa to Afghan citizens in Kabul (applicants have to visit either Islamabad or Dubai), a diplomatic slap on the face of Afghan government when they attended London conference discussing private sector development and total let down of British people who lost their loved ones in Afghanistan.
Entrepreneurs and private sector can create jobs and transition Afghanistan from aid dependency into self-sustainability. The government has to make doing business easy, support the private sector and not try to do business. The governments of the world are not good at doing business and should stay out. The Afghan government must ensure security, fight internal corruption and remove the barriers for private sector to deliver real value and change.