Assessment of Livelihoods and Vulnerability in Kabul, Afghanistan

Daily life in Kabul remains precarious as population has swollen in last two years

The following ACF - France report, a survey carried out earlier this year, details and maps livelihoods in Kabul, Afghanistan. The focus of the survey was to gain a better understanding of areas at risk and of the constraints faced by vulnerable groups throughout the city.

Summary Findings

  • Current estimated population in the city stands at about 2.8 million
  • Status of a household (e.g. IDP, Returnee...) is NOT the determining factor of vulnerability. More relevant indicators are:
    • Place of living (impacts access to job opportunities, services, sanitation conditions, etc.)
    • stability of income sources
    • network of relations
    • composition of the household
    • housing situation (renting vs. owning)
  • There are 9 distinct livelihood areas in Kabul as determined by the survey. These areas differ in several ways. For example, 51% of families in the central bazaar area live in a single room of 15.5 square meters (about 170 sq. ft.), compared to only 3% in the Khair Khana neighborhood.
  • In addition, the survey identified 11 highly vulnerable neighborhoods. More often than not, these areas are not included in the City's Master Plan and therefore do not enjoy the same access to infrastructures and services. These gozars host the highest population densities, and reportedly represent up to 60% of the total Kabuli population.
  • Water, sanitation and health services are poor to very poor. 26% of the city's families (representing 700,000 people) have to walk over 30 minutes to fetch water, an unusually long time in an urban setting. Garbage or night soil collections are either overstretched or non existent in most areas, especially in areas outside the master plan. Combined together with water issues and poulation density, sanitation has become a pressing issue, as it bears significant potential health risks. This is critical considering the level of frustration expressed regarding the functioning of the health system in the city: issues relate, among others, to referral to private practice and the difficult access to health services in general. Mother and Child Health is of particular concern.
  • While over half the population sampled (53%) declared eating more than a year ago, food remains the main reason why households contract debts, and diet diversification remains an issue. Daily life in Kabul is precarious, but most respondents said that they were optimistic about the future.


  • At the city level:
    • A Kabul specific health strategy must be designed. While comprehensive, it must address MCH issues as a priority.
    • Transportation and sanitation networks must be developed for all the city, not only for areas covered by the Master Plan.
    • Urban planning needs to include realistic and rapid solutions for neighborhoods left out of the current Master Plan.
  • In most vulnerable neighbourhoods:
    • Income Generation Schemes favouring stability over amount must be developed.
    • Rehabilitation of destroyed habitat is a priority.
    • Support to garbage and night soil activities.
    • Provision of hand pumps as a short term solution to enhance access to water.