Even in the face of challenging conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Seasonal Food Security Assessment (SFSA) was able to survey 21,863 households across Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. The SFSA provides humanitarian and development actors with the required information to estimate the characteristics of food insecure households and guide response planning as well as resilience programming in food and agriculture sectors. This is the tenth assessment of this kind since the Food Security & Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) began conducting this annual survey in 2011. The points below summarise the key findings from the SFSA analysis.
Health shocks worsen food insecurity during the IPC projection period (Nov 2020-March 2021)
Although favourable precipitation in 2020 continued to build on good conditions experienced during the 2019 agricultural production year - and allowed for surplus wheat production in several provinces, these gains were blunted by the socio-economic impacts of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has magnified existing vulnerabilities and has since caused a significant deterioration in the food security situation of the Afghan population. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) workshop in September 2020, which relies in large part on the SFSA data for outcome indicators and other available data, shows that since the start of the COVID-19 crisis there has been a 4% jump in the national population experiencing acute food insecurity. As of the projection analysis, which covers the months of November 2020 – March 2021, 42% of the population in Afghanistan are in IPC Phases 3 and 4, compared to 38% of the population during the previous projection. The severity of food insecurity is also on the rise with 14% of the population now in IPC Phase 4 (emergency food insecurity) compared to 9.2% in 2019. Also worrying is the corresponding decrease of the most food secure households. The percentage of the national population in IPC Phase 2 and Phase 3 has remained consistent over the past four years but in 2020 there was a significant decrease in the percentage of people in the most stable food security category, IPC Phase 1. This shows the cumulative impact of multiple years of conflict and steady erosion of coping mechanisms. In 2020, there are 17 analytical domains with 50% or more of the assessed people facing food insecurity. While the overall number of people food insecure was previously anticipated to decrease due to favourable precipitation and good spring and fall cultivation conditions - the full COVID-19 impacts were not yet apparent during the time of the last analysis in April 2020. These recent impacts include decreased purchasing power for the most vulnerable, reduced accessibility to food commodities as prices continue to be higher for staple goods along with livelihoods disruptions for the poorest Afghan households. Many households in Afghanistan are struggling to meet their basic food needs with 40% of Afghan households consuming a diet of low nutrient and caloric value, a proportion twice that seen a year ago.