Afghanistan has endured severe and pervasive economic, environmental, and political shocks for over four decades, heavily damaging the livelihood opportunities of the population. Conflict and political instability coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, droughts, and economic collapse have devastated livelihoods across the country.1 Farmers have suffered from pervasive conflict and insecurity,2 wage laborers have been adversely impacted by closed border crossings,3 business owners have either closed or dramatically scaled- down business operations, and formal workers (including civil servants, security personnel, and teachers) are facing widespread unemployment and unpaid salaries. Furthermore, a 75% decline in development aid reduced public spending by nearly 60%, leading to the collapse of essential services such as health care, crippling of the banking sector, inability to pay staff salaries, and a growing cash crisis.

This report aims to study the livelihood conditions of Afghans using data from the 2021 Survey of the Afghan People (SAP), a national survey of Afghan opinions with data collected just before the national takeover by the Taliban in August of that year. This report explores Afghan perceptions of economic factors, girls’ education, household conditions, agriculture, food security, and health during the last months of the Islamic Republic. We compare trends for people living in districts adjacent to borders with those living elsewhere in the country, and by employment status in Afghanistan (formal, informal, self-employed, and unemployed). Findings are presented to support evidence-based policymaking among the international community, donors, and key stakeholders. Overall, findings demonstrate that the economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was steadily deteriorating in the months leading to the Taliban takeover.