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The Afghanistan research programme

Attempts to engineer a social transformation and shift Afghanistan from its existing social order to one more reflective of Western norms have largely failed to take root and, if anything, have helped consolidate a rule of patronage and personalised relationships. A significant part of this failure can be attributed to conflict between irreconcilable goals and means in relation to fighting terrorism, addressing insurgency, responding to the opium economy and liberal state building, and the effects these have had in terms of muddling objectives and practices on the development agenda. But a goodly part of the mess can also be attributed to conflicting cultures, goals and practices between donors.

The Afghanistan research programme seeks to generate usable evidence on livelihoods, service delivery and social protection that will help inform better modes of international engagement in Afghanistan.

This research programme will be guided by three research themes:

  1. Context analysis and responding to village preconditions in service delivery
  2. Service delivery and capacity building of regional social orders
  3. Economic life and livelihood trajectories

More information

The team

Our Afghanistan research programme is being led by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) based in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Contact us

AREU, PO Box 3169, Shahr-i-Naw Post Office, Ministry of Interior Road, Shahr-i-Naw, Kabul, Afghanistan

Tel: +93 (0)799 608 548

Website: http://www.areu.org.af/

E-mail: slrc@odi.org.uk

Title Author Summary Country Date
Life in the times of ‘late development’: Livelihood trajectories in Afghanistan, 2002-2016 Adam Pain and Danielle Huot This paper considers what can be learnt from the trajectories of households in rural Afghanistan, tracked from 2002 to 2016. Afghanistan 22/02/2017
Afghanistan’s ‘surplus’ rural population Adam Pain and Danielle Huot This briefing is based on three rounds of a panel survey conducted from 2002 to 2016 in rural Afghanistan, and considers what the lack of agricultural growth means for rural households. Afghanistan 22/02/2017
Transforming Afghanistan? Seeking coherence between technical solutions and political processes: lessons from the field Adam Pain, Ashley Jackson, Danielle Huot and Giulia Minoia This briefing paper draws from three years of research into how people make a living in rural Afghanistan and the role that government, aid agencies, markets and the private sector have played. Afghanistan 22/02/2017
Livelihood trajectories in Afghanistan: Evidence from three villages in Herat Province Danielle Huot, Adam Pain and Ihsanullah Ghafoori Poverty levels in Afghanistan have remained largely unchanged despite considerable international investment. This report examines the underlying reasons, drawing on a longitudinal study – ongoing since 2003 - of households in three villages in the Pashtun Zarghun district of Herat. Afghanistan 22/12/2016
Livelihood trajectories in Afghanistan: Silent violence in Kandahar Province Adam Pain, Danielle Huot and Ihsanullah Ghafoori This study on livelihood trajectories in Kandahar is part of the third round of a panel survey tracking the fortunes of rural Afghan households. It explores the contrasting trajectories – improving, declining and coping – across the study households. Afghanistan 22/12/2016
Saffron: The social relations of production Giulia Minoia and Adam Pain Saffron is promoted in Afghanistan as a legal alternative to opium growing and for its potential to generate job opportunities, especially for women. But has it succeeded in creating growth and transforming women’s lives? Afghanistan 30/08/2016
Using village context analysis in Afghanistan: Methods and wider implications Adam Pain How can Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Program and Citizen’s Charter identify villages where there is sufficient coherence between the logic and interests that structure village life and programme design for interventions to succeed? This paper outlines the benefits of a village mapping approach Afghanistan 26/07/2016
Seeing like the networked state: Subnational governance in Afghanistan Ashley Jackson While institutions exist in name and edifice in Afghanistan, network connections are what govern access to resources. How the international community chooses to deal with such elite networks is critical to the future of Afghanistan Afghanistan 18/07/2016
The rules of the game: Towards a theory of networks of access Ashley Jackson and Giulia Minoia Rather than institutions and formal rules governing political and economic life, it is networks that matter most in Afghanistan. This briefing paper introduces a ‘networks of access’ approach to understanding political and economic life, applying network analysis to political and economic dynamics Afghanistan 29/06/2016
"90% real" - The rise and fall of a rentier economy: Stories from Kandahar, Afghanistan Giulia Minoia and Adam Pain In the boom years, being a street vendor in Kandahar provided a significantly better living for migrants from rural districts. But now times are harder, insecurity is greater and there has been a general economic downturn, plus increased regulation further threatens economic prospects. This paper examines the rise and fall of the rentier economy, and what it takes to be a winner in the urban economy game. Afghanistan 12/11/2015