Nearly 20 million people going hungry in Afghanistan, warns the UN World Food Programme (WFP)
Almost half of the population in Afghanistan – nearly 20 million people – are facing acute hunger, according to the latest food security analysis, the Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The report, conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), WFP and many non-governmental organizations was made in January and February.
“18.9 million people are forecast to face acute hunger up until November this year”, said WFP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia, Anthea Webb, when speaking at a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva. “Generous donor support to humanitarian food assistance and agricultural livelihoods has been an absolute lifeline to alleviate suffering so far.”
Although humanitarian assistance averted a catastrophe in the harsh winter months, hunger continues at unprecedented levels across the country.
“WFP, known to the world as largest humanitarian food operation, reaching more than 16 million people so far in 2022”, said Anthea Webb. “We're working with farmers, millers, and bakeries, training women and creating jobs to support the local economy. And we will continue to invest in people's livelihoods through skills training and climate adaptation projects.”
Of particular concern – and for the first time since the introduction of the IPC in Afghanistan in 2011 – pockets of “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity, or IPC Phase 5, has been detected in the country.
More than 20,000 people in Ghor province, located in the northeast, are facing catastrophic levels of hunger resulting from a long period of harsh winter and disastrous agricultural conditions.
“Drought and economic crisis persist, threatening close to 20 million people across the country and the war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on global food and fuel prices, especially acutely in Afghanistan where they were already much higher than before”, said Anthea Webb.
The report predicts a slight improvement in food security from June through November. This is partly due to the wheat harvest season from May to August and a scale up in humanitarian food assistance, facilitated by donor support.
The latest announcement made by the Taliban de facto authorities saying that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity and then, with their faces covered in public, will aggravate an already dire circumstance.
“In any situation where such an important portion of the population that women represent are unable to go to work - both because they've lost their jobs or because they are afraid to leave their houses, or because of newly imposed restrictions, - and that is bound to have a disproportionate effect on the family's ability to feed themselves”, said Anthea Webb.
WFP requires US$ 1.4 billion in 2022 to continue emergency, nutrition, and resilience response.