Despite a lull in conflict, severe acute food insecurity remains unprecedented across Afghanistan; humanitarian assistance prevented a human catastrophe
High acute food insecurity persists across Afghanistan, as a combination of a collapsing economy and drought is depriving nearly 20 million Afghans of food, classified in Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phases 3 or 4), between March and May 2022 (the lean season), latest data shows. Among these are about 6.6 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 13 million in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). A significant amount of Humanitarian Food Assistance (HFA) was provided, easing the food crisis for the most affected households. However, Afghanistan’s food security situation remains highly concerning, exacerbated by economic decline and high food prices. With 38% of the population targeted for HFA, nearly 20 million people, representing half the country's population, are still experiencing high and critical levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phases 3 and above) between March and May 2022. Among these, about 6.6 million people are classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), characterized by large food gaps and/ or employing emergency coping strategies to access food. For the first time since the introduction of IPC in Afghanistan, Catastrophe conditions (IPC Phase 5) were detected for 20,000 people in the province of Ghor, one of the most remote, vulnerable provinces of Afghanistan and immediate action is needed to prevent further deterioration.
Compared to the previous period, November 2021 to March 2022, which classified 22.8 M people in IPC Phase 3 and above, the reduction of the population facing high and critical level of acute food insecurity has been minimal and mainly driven by partners’ efforts in scaling up HFA. The increased capacity of humanitarian actors to reach beneficiaries in vulnerable rural areas compared to the peak of the winter season is playing a big role in this respect.
The persistence of this high magnitude and severity of food insecurity is due to a combination of a successive series of droughts, rising food prices, lingering impact of decades of conflict and the economic collapse resulting from the political transition. In the projected period, between June and November 2022, harvest will allow a minimal improvement in food availability and access, from 19.7 Million people facing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above) to 18.9 million. Overall, 13 million will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 6 million in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). With below average prospects for the harvest in most of the country, several factors are further expected to hamper the foreseeable seasonal improvement. Among these, many are fundamental socio-economic changes, such as the expected contraction of the GDP from 20 to 16 billion USD in 2022; the lack of development projects; the disruption of supply chain and further increase of food, fuel and fertilizer prices linked to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which add up to unprecedented inflation at country level; and the remaining sanctions on the de facto authorities. More specifically, at household level, the situation is compounded by the forecasted reduction of Humanitarian Food Assistance after the month of May. HFA is expected to decrease from 38% of the population receiving on average two third food ration in the current period, to 8% in the June-November projection due to lack of funding.