The World Bank, the prominent international financial institution, has reportedly suspended four projects worth $600 million in Afghanistan, as a response to the Taliban’s decision to ban girls from going back to secondary schools.
The bank had stated earlier that the projects, intended for improving agriculture, health, and education in the country, will strongly focus on making sure girls and women participate and benefit from the support.
Last week, the Taliban supposedly walked back on its decision to allow Afghanistan’s schools to reopen after months of restrictions, claiming that they will only open after a decision is taken regarding uniforms for female students that is according to the Afghan tradition and Sharia law.
The move has garnered criticism from all around the world, with protestors gathering close to the country’s Ministry of Education in Kabul on Saturday, 26th March, demanding for schools to be reopened.
The projects by World Bank were aimed at giving girls and women the same access to services that men have in Afghanistan, and are funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which was frozen in 2021 following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Earlier this month, World Bank’s executive board approved a plan to utilize over $1 billion from the ARTF and support the country’s urgent needs, including those of health, agriculture, and education. However, instead of giving it to Taliban authorities, the money would be distributed via agencies and aid groups of the United Nations.
In its statement, the bank stated that the first step would be for the ARTF donors to decide upon four projects worth around $600 million, supporting urgent needs in sectors such as health, agriculture, education, as well as in community livelihoods.
It also stated that the fund will be further supplemented from the ARTF during the year via additional allocations, as conditions allow.
The idea behind this phased approach is to remain flexible and adaptive, as the institution understands that the situation in the country is unsteady.
It is speculated that the project will restart only after the bank has confirmed that its goal will be met on the ground.
Source credit: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60923196