This article explores how physical remoteness influences the quality of life of people living in mountain communities in Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province. Basing its analysis on data obtained from a quality of life assessment carried out in Badakhshan, the article compares how quality of life indicators differed between villages that are more remote in terms of their access to markets, services, and transport, and those that are closer to small urban economic hubs. Indicators in a range of domains including the household economy, built environment, health, and education were poorer in remote villages. However, less tangible aspects of life such as trust between people, social cohesion, cultural life, and people's own perceptions of the quality of their lives were similar or better in these locations. Nevertheless, we argue that remoteness acts as an important barrier to improving many aspects of health and wellbeing in remote mountain villages. Market-led approaches by themselves are inadequate for helping to promote quality of life improvements in these communities. This research suggests that the holistic framework, mixed funding, and innovative approaches that the Aga Khan Development Network is pursuing as the main implementing partner of the National Solidarity Program in the province—including infrastructure development, strengthening local governance, and cross-border development programs with Tajikistan—stand a better chance of improving quality of life.
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