Wednesday April 24, 2024

Record level of hunger persists in Afghanistan: UN report

May 11, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: Record levels of hunger persist in Afghanistan as lingering drought and the deep economic crisis continue to threaten lives and livelihood, a new UN report says.

Some 19.7 million people, almost half of the Afghan population, are facing acute hunger, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in January and February 2022 by Food Security and Agriculture Cluster partners, including UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and many NGOs.

The analysis also revealed a pocket of “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity in the country’s northeast, affecting thousands.Although humanitarian assistance helped avert a food security catastrophe over the harsh winter in Afghanistan, hunger still persists at unprecedented levels, according to the report.

Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in the country, described the food security situation as dire. “Humanitarian assistance remains desperately important, as does the need to rebuild shattered agricultural livelihoods and re-connect farmers and rural communities to struggling rural and urban markets across the country. Unless these happen, there will be no way out of this crisis,” he said.

The report predicts there will be a slight improvement in food security in Afghanistan from June through November, with the number of people facing acute food insecurity dropping to 18.9 million. “This is partly due to the coming wheat harvest, which runs from May to August, as well as the scale-up in food assistance this year and increased support to agriculture.”

“Food assistance and emergency livelihood support are the lifelines for the people of Afghanistan. We mounted the world’s largest humanitarian food operation in a matter of months, reaching more than 16 million people since August 2021,” Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’’s Country Director and Representative in Afghanistan said.

However, the report warned that any gains will be limited, as lingering drought and the economic crisis continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions across the country.The report said that although the upcoming harvest will bring some relief for millions, that relief will only be short-term for many. The fallout from the war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on Afghanistan’’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs, and fuel prices.

Furthermore, access to seeds, fertilizer and water for irrigation is limited, labour opportunities are scarce, and people have incurred enormous debts to buy food over the past few months.

FAO and WFP continue to scale up their programmes across Afghanistan, it was pointed out. “We are working with farmers, millers, and bakeries, training women and creating jobs to support the local economy. Because the people of Afghanistan would much prefer jobs; women want to be able to work, and all girls deserve to go to school,” Ms McGroarty of WFP said.WFP has reached more than 16 million people in Afghanistan so far this year with emergency food assistance.