Robert Knoth, Back to square one, from PRIVATE 48 – Economic inequalities, pp. 24-27[I]n the summer of 2001, only months before 9/11, photographer Robert Knoth and writer Antoinette de Jong travelled on horseback into the remote areas of Northern Afghanistan where the population was suffering from severe drought.
This year they revisited the same district of Shahr-e-Bozorg to try and find the families they had met eight years earlier. They found many of the people they had previously interviewed and saw how rehabilitation programs had made a huge difference to their lives.
But this spring, as Northern Afghanistan was hit by extreme storms, much of the hard work that had been carried out in recent years was falling apart yet again. Houses and schools had collapsed, roads were disrupted or completely destroyed by landslides and drinking water systems were polluted and destroyed.
This reportage shows how reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are unsustainable in the long run even in areas where there is hardly any violence or hostility towards the central government and the presence of foreign soldiers. Climate change and overpopulation are causing erosion and the collapse of the fragile lives of most rural Afghans. Overgrazing and overpopulation are depleting meadows and agricultural lands, making them ever more vulnerable to the changing climate and increasingly extreme weather in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas mountain range.