Posted by: Christian | February 20, 2009

$1 per day in Faryab

As part of my blatant pro- “expat Canadian PhD students who study Afghanistan” bias I’m pointing you towards Jennifer McCarthy’s blog from Faryab province up in the Chahar Wiloyat. She has decided to live on an actual Afghan budget for a month to raise awereness and some funds. And she will provide the narrative of what that’s actually like.

Pic via robysaltori: Faryab, for one week a year,  in a better year.

Here’s the description she provided:

Dear friends,

As most of you know, I am currently living in Maimana, Faryab province in north Afghanistan while conducting PhD research. Many of you also know about the crippling poverty facing many Afghans.  Indeed, some of you have lived (or presently live) among Afghans trying to cope with the challenges of poverty. But you may not know to what extent poverty here in Faryab province is being exacerbated by the ongoing drought and rising food prices.  So much of the attention paid to Afghanistan focuses on the southern region.  I want to raise awareness about the continuing plight of Afghans in the north, where there is relatively little conflict but livelihood struggles abound.

And so, I have decided to give my time here as an academic researcher a bit of immediate relevance.  I want to experience and share with you the challenges of having no more than USD $1 per day to spend on food and water.

According to UN OCHA, over half of the Afghan population lives on less than USD $1 per day.  I work in rural villages in Faryab and see that most families struggle for access to adequate food and water. I want to begin to understand what it is like to live just below the international poverty line, so I will do so for 30 days beginning tomorrow, February 19th. USD $1 is the equivalent of 52Afs in the local currency.  I will provide myself with daily food and water with these 52Afs and will share with you the experience and reflections through my blog:

Please visit the blog for more of an explanation of what I want out of this experience.  I am raising awareness, first and foremost, but also funds.  You can donate through the secure ‘Chip in’ link on my blog.

So, my friends, please carry this message far and wide.  We are a powerful group of people with valuable social capital–the more we speak and demand action, the more results will be felt by those who matter most in the fight against poverty.

Your thoughts and comments are most welcome–please be in touch anytime via email or via my blog.
With warm regards,


Jennifer McCarthy
PhD Researcher
Department of Geography
Environment, Politics and Development Research Group
King’s College London


  1. I’m not sure how useful this is since Afghans grow a lot of their own food and have extended family networks to provide support. I wish her the best but I’m sure how illuminating her experience will be since many Afghans don’t live as a single person with just one dollar to spend.

  2. That would be “not”sure….

  3. […] Bleuer, a PhD student from Australia writes in Ghosts of Alexander writes that Jennifer McCarthy PhD researcher from Faryab province up in the Chahar Wiloyat decided to live […]

  4. […] This woman is living on $1/day in Faryab Province, Afghanistan. Via Ghosts of Alexander. […]

  5. Thanks for the mention, Christian.

    Dan: Of course you are correct about social networks, but with the ongoing drought since 2004, agricultural production (ranging from home gardens to larger scale enterprises) has virtually ceased. Very few have the funds to pay for water transportation from many miles away, and so much land is sitting parched and fallow and has been for a couple of years. Thus the difficult reality of purchasing increasingly expensive food from the bazaar is indeed part of many rural Afghan lives. This, with time, will also have a negative impact on the ability of social networks to provide crucial support in times of need.

    I think, based on my observations over recent years, that many struggle with far less than $1 per day. Not only must they think of food and water, but energy (heating and cooking), medicine, education, transportation, clothing, shelter, and so on.

    All I am trying to do is raise awareness about what is happening in north Afghanistan while most of the international media focuses on counter-insurgency in the south.


  6. […] Bleuer, dottorando australiano scrive [in] nel post Ghosts of Alexander [Fantasmi di Alessandro] che Jennifer McCarthy, studentessa per […]

  7. […] Bleuer, um estudante de graduaçãoda Austrália escreve [en] em Ghosts of Alexander que Jennifer McCarthy, outra estudante em Londres, decidiu viver do […]

  8. […] Bleuer at Ghosts of Alexander and the guys at have both highlighted the work of Jennifer McCarthy, a Canadian PhD […]


%d bloggers like this: