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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
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
Taking village context into account in Afghanistan Adam Pain and Georgina Sturge This briefing paper relates to the report, Mapping village variability in Afghanistan: The use of cluster analysis to construct village typologies, and outlines the importance of understanding the particular village context when designing, implementing and evaluating aid interventions Afghanistan 01/10/2015
Politics and governance in Afghanistan: The case of Kandahar Ashley Jackson This paper examines subnational governance and access to public goods in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In Kandahar relationship-based networks regulate nearly every aspect of political and social order, including access to justice, employment and participation in the economy. The paper seeks to understand the power relations at play, attempting to separate how government functions in reality from narratives created by the international community about how government should function. This paper is the second in a series of case studies undertaken by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Afghanistan 22/06/2015
Mapping village variability in Afghanistan: The use of cluster analysis to construct village typologies Adam Pain and Georgina Sturge This working paper investigates whether or not village typologies can be constructed with respect to the behaviour of village elites in Afghanistan. More specifically we examine patterns of land use and land ownership, pre-existing governance structures, and the presence of elites within the village. Drawing on data from Nangarhar and Badakhshan and using cluster analysis, this paper demonstrates that there are distinct types of villages and suggests what some of the underlying causal factors of this variation might be. Afghanistan 18/05/2015