Azadeh Faghihi, M.Sc. (2008)

Thesis: Compatibility of Alternative Livelihood Programs and Counter-Narcotics Efforts: A Development Dilemma in Afghanistan

Abstract: The problem of Afghanistan is unique; it has gone through decades of war, and its people have yet to see any form of stability, be it socially, economically, or environmentally. Afghanistan is also unique because of its heavy economic dependence on the opium poppy. Further problems in Afghanistan relate to the heightened threat of insurgency which is exasperated by the weak governmental structure and a high level of corruption in the government. Thus the international community has to be cautious about how it intervenes in Afghanistan’s fragile state. If intervention is in the form of aid, development, or military support, it must be well coordinated and executed.

After the events of September 11th, 2001, Afghanistan was at the center of the world stage. This spotlight gave Afghanistan the opportunity and recognition to receive aid through many international donor agencies and governments. Since then, major amounts of aid money have either been spent or have been promised, yet it is not clear what has been achieved in the way of security, poverty eradication, or reduction of illicit crops, and it is difficult to gauge how all these elements are interconnected. The aim of this work is to examine aspects of Afghanistan’s opium poppy cultivation and address how it relates to livelihood in rural communities. Since the general increase in poppy cultivation has been the topic of debate and has been linked to other problems in Afghanistan and even global security, it should be further examined.

Specifically, the major factors which hinder Alternative Development Programs or Alternative Livelihood Programs (ALPs) in Afghanistan are examined. Most recently, the US, British and Afghani governments have begun to heavily condone and undertake forced eradication and interdiction to resolve the poppy problem. The implications of using such interdiction and eradication on the success of Alternative Livelihood Programs is discussed.

Co-supervisor: Dr. Paul Wood

Current Position: District Environmental Planner, Natural Resources, California Department of Transportation, San Francisco, California, USA