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Local institutions, livelihoods and vulnerability: lessons from Afghanistan

Research reports

Social relationships are central to the ability of Afghan households to reduce vulnerability and gain a degree of livelihood security

This working paper examines the variability in the impact of social relationships on the provision of public goods in different villages in Afghanistan and argues this variability has not been captured in policy and programming responses.

Drawing on a study of 11 villages in Afghanistan, this paper argues that there are significant differences between villages, both in the quality of relationships that can be established and the behaviour of these villages in relation to the provision of public goods. What underlies these differences is the behaviour of village elites and the level of their interest in supporting the common good.

The paper argues that these fundamental characteristics of Afghanistan’s rural society – the centrality of social relationships and their variability by village – are not being captured in policy and programming responses.

Policy and programming needs to pay greater attention to the variability between villages and the implications of this variability for intervention design and impact assessment.

Adam Pain and Paula Kantor