1. HUMANITARIAN CONTEXT
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan remains the worst in the world. Forty years of war, recurrent natural disasters and increasing poverty are devastating the people of Afghanistan. The COVID-19 pandemic adds up to a crisis within a crisis with catastrophic consequences for people’s health and income. Conflict continues to uproot thousands of people every year, driving up humanitarian need and exacerbating already widespread needs. Humanitarian access to some of the most vulnerable communities near to conflict points remains limited. Afghanistan and its people continue to reel from the impacts of years of conflict, COVID-19 and limited of development investment. The current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is widespread and severe, with a projected 18.4 million people in humanitarian need in 2021, up from 14 million people in June 2020 and 9.4 million in January 2020 (Afghanistan HNO 2021)
2. NUTRITION SITUATION ANALYSIS AND 2021 HNO
The nutritional status of children under five continues to deteriorate in most parts of Afghanistan, directly threatening their lives. This stems from the surge in acute food insecurity over recent years combined with other contributing factors such as low access to health services (due to forced displacement or issues with physical accessibility and distance to nutrition services), poor access to water and sanitation, poor maternal nutrition, low immunization coverage and high disease burden. Poor feeding practices for infants and young children are also strongly linked with undernutrition. Although almost all children in Afghanistan are breastfed, only 58 per cent of children under six months are exclusively breastfed. In a deteriorating trend from the beginning of the year, findings of the most recent nutrition surveys show that 26 out of 34 provinces are above the emergency threshold for acute malnutrition. Analysis of data from 50 SMART surveys conducted from 2015 to 2019 indicates that a staggering 15.3 per cent of infants under six months in Afghanistan were affected by wasting. Of these children, some 6.2 per cent are severely wasted.