According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), food prices generally remained stable or slightly decreased between September and October 2020, though prices remain significantly above-average at the national level. Overall, above-average food prices and below-average income earning opportunities are expected continue constraining food access for many poor urban households, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected through May 2021 in the absence of assistance. Meanwhile, above-average livestock prices are generally compensating for above-average staple food prices, supporting pastoralists’ and agro-pastoralists’ ability to procure stocks for the lean season during winter. Most rural households are expected to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through May 2021, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected in some areas that harvested less. In both urban and rural areas, below-average remittances are also expected to constrain food access for some poor households.
After a dry start to the wet season, widespread precipitation of 25 to 50 mm occurred throughout most of Afghanistan in the second dekad of November 2020. This eliminated earlier deficits, with cumulative precipitation now generally average across Afghanistan. Similarly, snow cover and snow depth are also at average levels in higher elevation areas. Cultivation prospects have improved following the recent precipitation, though cold weather and high soil moisture are now delaying cultivation in some areas. Despite this recent precipitation, cumulative precipitation for the 2020/21 season is still forecast to be below average overall, with below-average production anticipated.
As of late November 2020, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily has continued to increase, though cases per day are still less than a third of what was reported at the peak of the outbreak in May/June 2020. However, these figures are expected to underestimate the true number of infections due to limited testing. Despite this increasing trend, the government is not expected to resume enforcement of strict lockdown measures during the projection period. The increasing number of new cases in Afghanistan will likely reduce affected households’ ability to earn income while increasing health costs. Meanwhile, increasing cases and preventative measures in other countries in the region—particularly Iran—will likely continue to restrict remittances.