Two years of failed rains have left Afghanistan crippled by a severe drought that has left two thirds of the country one stage away from famine, IPC 4 [Integrated Phase Classification] compared to 2.2 million in May, according to an Emergency Food Security Assessment.
Since the beginning of the integrated drought response in August, humanitarian partners have reached more than 690,000 people with life-saving assistance. Now, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) have allocated US$34.6 million in emergency aid to support 2.2 million people in dire need of assistance. With these funds, 7 national NGOs, 15 international NGOs and 4 UN agencies will distribute food and seeds, maintain primary health services, provide emergency shelter, safe drinking water, improve hygiene and sanitation, treat severe malnutrition, and help farmers protect their livestock.
The funds are particularly critical as Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) remains drastically underfunded. Of the total US$547 million requested to reach 4.2 million people, 64 per cent remains not funded. The HRP is being revised for the second time this year after a first revision in May 2018, which resulted in an increase of US$117 million in the amount sought due to the drought.
“The impact of the ongoing drought spans the north and west of the country leaving communities in deep distress. Village elders in rural areas tell me that this is the worst drought in their lifetime, and that food, fodder and seeds are needed urgently,” said Toby Lanzer, Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan. “The drought has forced a quarter of a million people from their land, and for the displaced, the need for shelter is critical as winter approaches.”
“The drought comes on top of years of conflict and poverty, and therefore humanitarian assistance goes hand in hand with development programmes to address underlying factors such as poverty and climate change. Our work is closely coordinated with the authorities, yet still more needs to be done so the people of Afghanistan can withstand severe shocks such as this drought.”
The CERF is a global fund managed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. The AHF is one of currently 18 country-based pooled funds. Managed by OCHA on behalf of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, it plays a vital role in ensuring an effective, coordinated, and prioritized humanitarian response, providing funding to international and national NGOs, and UN agencies. Since the start of 2018, the AHF allocated $47.7 million in contributions, thanks to the generous support of Australia, Denmark, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations Foundation.
There is an estimated wheat production deficit of 2 - 2.5 million metric tons, which is 45-57 per cent of the annual average wheat production of 4.3 million metric tons. From August to October, 1.2 million people or 65 per cent of the 1.9 million people targeted to receive assistance - as part of the integrated drought response prioritizing response in 71 districts - were reached in their areas of origin as well as in places of displacement.