Further conflict-induced displacement and repatriation will continue to drive assistance needs
Although aggregate 2016 wheat harvests were near- average, the weakening of the casual labor market since 2013 has made it more difficult for poor households to earn sufficient income to support dietary needs during the lean season. Furthermore, 2016 rainfed production was poor in some areas, including in Ghor, Balkh, and Jawzjan Provinces. Poor households affected by poor own production or who were not able to find sufficient employment to support food purchases are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until spring labor opportunities.
The ongoing conflict between various insurgent groups, primarily the Taliban, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has escalated in the last two years, leading to greater population displacement in 2016 than at any other time in the record of estimates since 2002.
Furthermore, insecurity has continued to disrupt normal livelihoods through disrupting access to farms and rangeland, limiting market access both for the selling and purchasing needs of poor households, and limiting economic activity and labor opportunities. UNOCHA estimates that approximately 650,000 people remain displaced, and further displacement is likely as the spring and summer months approach and fighting intensifies.
Although the beginning of the ongoing wet season from October through December was very dry, heavy precipitation in the latter half of January and through much of February has led to average to above-average snow accumulation throughout the country. Although there remains a large spread of possible outcomes, climate models indicate a likelihood for average to above-average precipitation during the remainder of the wet season through May. It is expected that water availability for irrigation purposes will be sufficient for the normal development of irrigated crops, and water availability for second season crops is likely to be average to above-average. Although cumulative precipitation is likely to be sufficient for spring rainfed crops, all rainfed areas must be monitored closely, as the distribution, frequency, and timing of rainfall is crucial for determining harvest outcomes.
Last year, an estimated 600,000 people returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran. Humanitarian agencies anticipate a similar number of people repatriating during the coming year, with the largest population movements expected during the warmer months from March through October. As in 2016, many of these people are likely to return with minimal assets, and will need assistance upon arrival as well as income-earning opportunities. Many will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity if humanitarian assistance funding shortfalls and difficulty in accessing income-earning opportunities persist.