Afghanistan and Rwanda: Comparison of Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

For example, in 2004, bad weather threatened the already strained economic conditions in the area (USAID). In describing Rwanda's current economic situation, Murenzi states that the country cannot "meet food and nutrition needs of the population at large," has "exploit[ed]" the land, does not produce a diverse enough amount of goods, cannot stimulate its own economy because of a lack of wealth, especially among subsistence farmers, and has too weak of an infrastructure to support "low value, bulk commodities." High population density, large amounts of debt, and a great deal of foreign aid complicate the current economic crisis in Rwanda (USAID). Thus, the current state of Rwanda's economy can be described as developing primarily because the economy as it is cannot provide for its people.

Though Rwanda currently suffers from many economic problems, its future prospects are aided by several key factors -- a general willingness and desire to be self-sufficient, an emphasis on technology as a method for development, and a large number of external contributors who are willing to help Rwanda develop economically. Unlike Afghanistan, whose Taliban seek to inhibit economic growth, Rwandans welcome it. In 2004, Rwanda joined the Common market of Eastern and Southern Africa and accepted "a peer review of governance under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa's Development...and the African Union" (USAID). Across the country, women have been integral in boosting Rwanda's economy, taking out micro loans and starting businesses to support their families, and supporting their country in the process. These women, many of whom are working for the first time, have helped to "fight the cycle of poverty," through their own determination (Fiola A01).

Furthermore, Afghanistan's focus on agriculture, especially the cultivation of narcotics, has limited its prospects for future growth. Rwanda, on the other hand, has decided to harness technology in order to develop, developing a Ministry in Charge of Science, Technology, and Scientific Research in 2006. The ministry has adopted several lofty goals such as developing legal standards for scientific development, establishing a fund for scientific research, and building facilities for scientific research (Murenzi). In addition, NGOS, the World Bank, and other contributors have expressed an interest in contributing to Rwanda's lofty goals.

Despite these positive trends, however, Rwanda, like Afghanistan, faces many challenges in its economic potential. Despite the desire of Rwandans and the emphasis on technology, Rwanda still will face the problem of overcoming an agriculturally-based community. The scars of genocide have yet to heal, and violence still erupts in the country, making it unstable. In addition, Rwanda's dependence on foreign aid money to launch effective programs makes self-sufficiency a difficult achievement. Thus, when assessed in terms of their present and potential economies, both Afghanistan and Rwanda can be considered developing because they have severe economic woes currently, as well as significant problems to overcome in the future, or limited future potential. While Rwanda's economy might be more ready to develop than Afghanistan's, it is clear that both economies, as well as the potential for economic growth, are underdeveloped.

Social Development

Still wrecked from the wounds of war, social development in Afghanistan is more than necessary. Still, when assessed, Afghanistan's development in the areas of healthcare and education has much to be desired. In the area of healthcare, citizens are often left fighting diseases because they cannot afford the cost of private hospitals. Citizens who cannot afford these hospitals must often travel many miles to free hospitals set up by charities, or use government hospitals. Although the numbers of hospitals have risen, and the government claims that free hospitals are available for most, citizens say that this isn't the case, that the free healthcare is not adequate and is often too far away. With high infant mortality rates, underweight and dying children, ill-equipped hospitals, and limited technological advances, some compare the amount of money spent on healthcare with the amount spent by the United States on the war effort (Lyn). Those citizens who cannot afford to pay for hospital care might even be more at risk of getting certain diseases, as Leslie et al. confirmed that "knowledge about reducing exposure" to bird flu was "associated with socioeconomic status," among other factors (1459).

Rwanda, as well, suffers deficiencies in healthcare, but the emphasis in Rwanda is not on bird flu, but HIV. In fact, Allen et al. state that Rwanda has a high rate of HIV infected patients, as well as a high infant mortality rate. In their study, which compared pregnancy and hormonal contraception use with HIV, the researchers recommended that HIV education and family planning should be intertwined and used to teach Rwandan men and women how to avoid both HIV and pregnancy (1017). Currently, the infant mortality rate is at 11%, and 1.4% of mothers die in childbirth. More than five percent of Rwandans are infected with HIV (USAID). Like in Afghanistan, preventable diseases kill many children; one-fifth of children die before they reach the age of five (USAID).

Other health issues in Rwanda stem from the limited access to clean water and overpopulation (Murenzi), along with a life expectancy rate of 40 (USAID). Thus, both Afghanistan and Rwanda have proved to be underdeveloped when it comes to healthcare. In Afghanistan, numbers seem to reflect available facilities, while citizens argue that that these facilities are not available to all. In Rwanda, statistics tell of death, disease, and HIV and AIDS. While healthcare seems to be mutually deficient in both countries, scholars suggest a campaign for education in both areas will see results. For example, education regarding the bird flu in Afghanistan may help prevention, while education regarding HIV and AIDS in Rwanda, some believe, will slow the outbreak.

Education as a whole in both countries, however, leaves much to be desired. In Afghanistan, the decision to go to school is a risky one, since the Taliban tend to focus on students leaving schools as a method of intimidation. Students are shot and sometimes killed. Because of this, many parents choose not to send their children to school. Even with this risk, however, the advent of the U.S.'s intervention in Afghanistan began a new trend -- women in school. While females were not allowed to attend school in the recent past, based on Taliban law, they are now able to get an education, not only in learning, but also in equality, a lesson whose significance is not lost on their male peers. In 2007, education enrollment as a whole appeared to have doubled since the Taliban days. But the attacks on schools deter some who could otherwise choose education and literacy (Bearak). These brutal attacks do not discourage many girls, however, who often walk for hours and pledge to go to school despite injuries they received while attempting to attend in the past. In fact, many institutions specifically for females and their education have been developed (Gayle). Despite these encouraging stories, only about half of school age students in Afghanistan are enrolled, and these numbers may be inflated (Bearak). With students serving as targets, educational development will most likely refrain from improving in the near future.

In Rwanda, however, education receives a much grander status. Although Rwanda's literacy rate is only 69%, each adult has only about 2.6 years of formal education (school), and enrollment in primary school is just above 50% (USAID), the idea of education in Rwanda is exploding. Rwanda's emphasis on technology has instilled in the country's citizens a desire to harness this power in order to advance their technology. Thus, the respect for technology and science learning is great. In fact, Breen states that "the Rwandan government is currently investing a great deal of time and resources in improving its education system as a means of emancipating its people from the poverty and ignorance of the past" (1). Technology has been helping Rwanda further that goal by providing distance education courses for those in Africa who want to train in the teaching or other professions (Breen 2). One of these distance learning programs is called "Twese Hamwe," which means "all together." The program combines technology, classroom education, and an emphasis on theory, interaction, and collaberation (Breen 3). The goal of the project, which is a partnership between a university in Rome and one in Rwanda, is to help the developing country and then pull out, allowing the developing country "become independent in using their own courses independently without the assistance of external agencies" (Breen 3). Despite the fact that Rwanda's attitude toward education is favorable, however, it still remains true that literacy and education rates in the country are low, perhaps because families must work instead of spending time in schooling, tuition is too high, or schools are not centrally located.

Thus, in terms of social development, both Afghanistan and Rwanda can use improvements when it comes to healthcare and education. Although some improvements, such as an increase in the number of hospitals, scholars' interest in AIDS education programs, and a common understanding of the importance of education, have…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Allen, Susan, Stephenson, Rob. Weiss, Heidi, Karita, Etienne, Priddy, Frances, Fuller,

Laurie, Declerco, Andre. "Pregnancy, Hormonal Contreceptive Use, and HIV-Related Death in Rwanda." Journal of Women's Health. 16.7 (2007): 1017-1027.

Bearak, Barry. "Education in Afghanistan: A harrowing choice." The International

Herald Tribune. 9 July 2007. 8 March 2009.

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