Samangan

Introduction

Samangan Province, one of the thirty- four provinces in Afghanistan, is located in the north of the country and bordered by Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Province is well positioned on the main trade road between Mazar-e-Sharif and Pul-e-Khumri, Salang and Kabul. However, a large part of the Province is geographically isolated. A large proportion of the region is mountainous or semi mountainous terrain (80%) while almost an eighth (12%) of the area is made up of flatland. Samangan is 959 meters above sea level, covering 13,438 km2. The area is divided into 7 districts, which are Hazrat-e-Sultan, Khuram Wa Sarbagh, Feroz Nakhcheer, Roi-Do-Ab, Dara-e-Soof-e-Payin, Dara-e-Soof-e-Bala and Aybak which serves as the province’s capital.

Demographics

Due to a lack of census data, there is no exact figure on Samangan’s population. However, provincial estimates in 2004, put the total population of the region at 320, 400, with more recent estimates approximating it at 394,500. Aybak, as of data collected 2015, had the largest population in Samangan, comprising 29.4 percent of the provincial share. Dara-e-Soof-e-Payin came in second with 18.9 percent, followed by Dara-e-Soof-e-Bala with 15.8 percent. Feroz Nakhcheer was the smallest district with only 3.4 percent. 

Population density followed a similar pattern, with Aybak coming in at top (87 persons per km2 of land area), while Feroz Nakhcheer at the bottom (13 persons per km2).

The sex composition of the province is slightly skewed towards males, with the population comprising of 104 males for every 100 females. Samangan followed the national trend in terms of age structure, with a very young population - almost 44 percent of its population was aged below 15 years. According to the Samangan SDES 2015, the literacy rate in the province is 32.6% for citizens aged 10 years and older, with males (43.1%) twice as likely as females (21.5%) to be literate under the UN-mandated definition of literacy. A similar pattern existed in terms of educational attainment, with 10.2% of males having attended classes 10–12 or received vocational or higher education, while only 2.0% of all women had accessed the same.

It also ranks amongst the worst fifteen provinces in Afghanistan for under-5 mortality rates and maternal mortality ratios. Polio vaccination coverage stood at 45.8%, while only 12.2% of the population had access to a safe-water source. The average household size of was 5.9 persons per household, while 90.1 percent of households had electricity in their houses. In the district RoiDo-Ab, this proportion for electricity access was the highest among districts at 96.4 percent.

According to a survey in 2003, Dari is the predominantly spoken language, being spoken by 72.5% of the population and 69.4% of the villages. Uzbaki comes in at 2nd, being spoken by 25.2 % of the villages, and 21.2% of the villages.

As Afghanistan has never had a census of its complete population, the UNFPA only provides estimates of the ethnic groups present in Samangan, with approximations dividing the population mainly between Uzbeks (30%) and Tajiks (65%). However, the region does have pockets of other ethnic groups, including Pashtuns, Hazaras, Arabs, Tatars, and others.

Economy

The economy of Samangan is primarily premised on agriculture. According to USAID data, the majority of the residents of Samangan were engaged in animal husbandry, especially sheep and cattle. There has been increasing awareness and promotion of herd improvement through cross breeding, and animal health services are being refurbished.  A substantial proportion of the population relies on subsistence agriculture with farmers in remotes areas continuing in the tradition of keeping portions of the wool, meat and milk from livestock for personal consumption, selling the remainder in local markets. While only a small proportion of area has soil fertile enough for crop production, Samangan has vast tracts of pastureland.

According to data collected for the year 2008, farmers in the area grew 30 different crops on approximately 144,454 hectares of land (10.58 percent of total area). The most cultivated area of the region is concentrated in the northwestern and southeastern districts, close to the Samangan River. Almost 70 percent of the cultivated land is concentrated in 4 of the 7 districts of Samangan. Samangan’s total 2008 crop production totaled at 292,286 megatons, with grains coming having the largest share of production, (88.98 percent).  Fruits came in at second (10.18 percent), followed by vegetables(0.72 percent) and fodder and industrial crops (0.13 percent). The total market value of the 2008 agricultural output was estimated at $253 million.

A minority of the population is also engaged in non-farm labor, manufacturing and industry, and opium production.

Data collected in 2007 found that more the unemployment rate in Samangan stood at 18.7%, drastically high in comparison to states around the world, but below well below the national mean, which was estimated to be 25% in 2015. The child labor rate, calculated between those between 5-15 years of age stood at 10.1% according to data from 2007. More recent surveys found that the rate had dropped to 9.0%, with boys much more likely engaged in child labor (14.7%) than girls (3.2%). The budget for the year 2012 came in at 936.1 million AFS, while expenditure stood for the same year stood at 1,091,125 thousand AFS. Data from 2007 demonstrated a poverty rate of 55.1%. The monthly total consumption per capita stood at 1,188 AFS.

Political Parties

Muhammad Hashim Zareh serves the Provincial Governor of the province.   Mohammad Hashem Zareh was appointed governor in July, 2015, the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, on the back of mandate of launching development projects, and ensuring freedom of expression.

On July 17th, he was officially introduced to the local officials and citizens of the area by Mohammad Nader Yama, policy deputy of Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG).

The government bureaucracy also includes a Police Chief, a delegate of the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul, and mandated to oversee all police department activities within the province.