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Afghanistan, Asia Pacific | Humanitarian Crises - Emergency Appeal No: MDRAF007 - Operational Strategy

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Glide №: DR-2021-000022-AFG

IFRC Secretariat funding requirement: CHF 80 Million

Federation-wide funding requirement: CHF 200 Million

OPERATIONAL STRATEGY REVISION

Against the backdrop of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the IFRC Secretariat is increasing its Emergency Appeal from CHF 36 million to CHF 80 million and extending the operation’s timeframe until 31 December 2023. The increase in funding requirements will enable IFRC to scale up humanitarian assistance as well as to implement interventions that bridge development. It also extends the operation’s geographical coverage from 19 to all 34 provinces of the country and increases the target to 1 million people.

The increase in funding requirements will enable IFRC to scale up humanitarian assistance as well as to implement interventions that bridge development in Afghanistan. It also extends the operation’s geographical coverage from 19 to all 34 provinces of the country and increases the target to 1 million people.

Put together with the IFRC Secretariat’s Operational Plan for 2022 and 2023 (CHF 50 million), ARCS own funding for 2022 and 2023 (CHF 25 million) and funding by Participating National Societies working bilaterally in Afghanistan (CHF 45 million), the Federation-wide funding requirements until the end of 2023 amounts to CHF 200 million. The graphic below provides the visualization of the breakdown of the funding requirements:

Collectively, the IFRC and its members are aiming to deliver assistance to two million people across 34 provinces of Afghanistan, translating to 10 per cent of the affected population.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENT

Afghanistan is facing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis that resulted from compounded impacts of multiple types of events that had been impacting the countries over 40 years. The main drivers of the crisis can be summarized into five interrelated layers as shown in the graphic below:

Impact of long–term conflict and situations of violence

Afghanistan had faced four decades of conflict, involving both internal and external parties, resulting in generations of people living through insecurities. Numerous districts and multiple provinces were inaccessible for extended periods due to insecurity rendering development and humanitarian assistance in these areas extremely limited. In addition to the dangers of conflicts, populations in these areas faced decades of other related challenges such as displacement, reduced or – in certain areas – no access to basic services such as health, clean water and education.

In 2021, the conflict intensified, especially between June and August during which province after province came under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) with a nationwide take-over in August 2021. Since then, there has been some respite in conflicts and areas that were previously considered unreachable became more accessible. While security has largely been maintained since the transition, situations of violence are still being reported in some parts of the country. The situation remains fluid and it will take years for Afghanistan to recover from decades of conflict. The potential of new conflict situations cannot be discarded.

Persistent impact of drought, extreme climate and seismic hazards

Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, prone to disasters, and has experienced avalanches, droughts, earthquakes, floods, and landslides over the last decade. Temperatures are rising at a higher rate than the global average and the incidence of drought conditions is likely to increase. The primary causes of droughts in Afghanistan are meteorological (based on reduced precipitation) and hydrological (reduction in surface and subsurface water flow). The current drought is due to reduced precipitation. Due to the extended drought, the country is also experiencing a deficit in surface and subsurface water flow.

The current drought is considered the worst in three decades. it started in 2020, due to the impact of La Niña, and the situation has gradually worsened since the winter of 2020/21. On 22 June 2021, a state of emergency due to the drought was officially declared. The 2021-2022 wet season brought little relief as 20 out of 34 provinces once again received below average or well below average rainfall.

Based on the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) latest report, in June 2022, La Niña is likely to persist during late summer, fall and early winter 2022 with probabilities ranging from 52 to 59%. This has significant impacts on the seasonal forecasts of precipitation and temperature across the globe. There are enhanced probabilities of below-normal precipitation forecasted over and around central and southwest Asia during August to October 2022, with gradually increasing probabilities between September to December 2022.
More importantly, this will most probably cause the drought to persist through 2022 in Afghanistan with belowaverage precipitation expected across Afghanistan due to La Niña.

According to UNDP, agriculture contributes an estimated 31 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2020, and approximately 85 per cent of Afghans depend on primarily rain-fed agriculture and agribusiness for their livelihoods. The impact of the drought is hence significant for most Afghans.

Additionally, there are pockets of significant rainfall in a few areas over these periods (2021-2022). Due to the dryness of the land due to long drought, water does not seep into the ground quickly. This causes flash floods such as the one that happened in May 2021, where a total of 16 provinces in five regions across the country were affected by consecutive flash floods following heavy rains causing loss of lives, livelihoods, and household items. There is a possibility of such an incident happening again in 2022 but with a lower probability than in 2021.

Afghanistan is located in an active seismic region. Seismic activity continues to be a threat to the country, with the latest significant earthquake having happened in early 2022, in Badghis province, severely impacting the population. Based on the Preliminary Earthquake Hazard Map of Afghanistan study, Chaman fault, the Hari Rud fault, the Central Badakhshan fault, and the Darvaz fault as those most likely to contribute to seismic hazards and can be seen in the seismic hazard map below:

Reduced access to financial services due to sanctions

With the change of authorities, significant international financial restrictions and sanctions have been put in place for Afghanistan. Up to USD 9 billion worth of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank – have been frozen since August 2021, the banking system has been strained, and the shortage of foreign currencies persists in the country. The severe impact on the banking system has impacted households, local businesses and organizations, including humanitarian, which are unable to access cash. Limits have been put in place on amounts that individuals can withdraw from their personal accounts, curtailing their purchasing power and contributing to further contracting of Afghanistan’s economy.

Overall inflation is being driven by increasing prices of basic household goods. According to the World Bank, year-on-year inflation for basic household goods hit 40.7 per cent in January 2022, reduced to around 32 per cent in February and March 22 but spiked to 36.5 per cent in April 2022 as increasing global food prices have started to seep into domestic food prices.

In terms of access to food, the Afghanistan Welfare Monitoring Survey, indicated that most households interviewed in October–December 2021 reported a decline in their ability to cover basic food and non-food needs as compared to their recall for May 2021. Over two-thirds (70 per cent) of respondents indicated that their household was unable to cover basic food and non-food needs, as compared to about 35 per cent in May 2021. Of these, more than half were unable to cover food expenses and 33 per cent were unable to cover both food and non-food needs. This is reflected in the chart below from the same report:

The exchange rate continues to gradually depreciate with some improvement seen in the second quarter of 2022 but again a downturn in May 2022.

Geopolitical and Global Crises Impact

The socioeconomic impact of COVID–19 is also felt in Afghanistan. The reduction in economic activities during the pandemic has also contributed to a downturn in the economy and reduced the flow of money into the country.

Afghanistan's economy remains vulnerable and exposed to global commodity prices. The geopolitics in the region continue to impact Afghanistan which is a landlocked country and net importer of food. The Ukraine crisis has to a certain extent also impacted Afghanistan when it comes to accessing wheat – a staple – including from neighbouring countries.

In addition to the rising prices of basic needs including food, skyrocketing prices of agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, have increased the cost of agriculture. Considering that approximately 85 per cent of Afghans depend on primarily rain-fed agriculture and agribusiness for their livelihoods, the impact of global developments on agricultural inputs will have a significant effect on Afghanistan which is a nett importer.

Suspension or repurposing of long–term international assistance to Afghanistan

Prior to August 2021, international donors financed more than half of Afghanistan’s annual budget and as much as 80 per cent of total public expenditures. The reluctance of some development funders to channel support to Afghanistan since August 2021 has had a major impact. Now, most of the international assistance is only humanitarian while development cooperation has either been redirected to humanitarian assistance or suspended entirely. This situation has severely impacted the provision of basic services such as health which was heavily funded by the international community. Although some development funding has been repurposed for humanitarian and bridging interventions aimed at maintaining basic services, most of the support is channelled through non-local entities and investing in structural support for the country is restricted. These risks reduce the sustainability of investments being made and are hindering localization gains.