Afghanistan’s food crisis reaches unprecedented levels as nearly 19 million people are highly food insecure due to prolonged drought, conflict and economic collapse
In September and October 2021 (the post-harvest season), nearly 19 million people in Afghanistan experienced high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), an almost 30% increase from the same season last year (14.5 million people). The main drivers of acute food insecurity include drought and its impacts on crops and livestock, the collapse of public services, a severe economic crisis and increasing food prices. An estimated 6.8 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 11.9 million people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) require urgent action to save their lives, reduce food gaps and protect their livelihoods.
Between November 2021 and March 2022 (the winter lean season), a further deterioration in food security is expected, with the number of people in IPC Phase 3 or above increasing to 22.8 million, a nearly 35% increase from the same season last year (16.9m). Out of 22.8 million people, 14 million will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 8.7 million in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The number of areas in Emergency is expected to significantly increase in the projection analysis period from 21 to 32 analytical domains. It is likely that household food access between the end of winter and the following spring season will further deteriorate due to: the continuing La Niña climatic episode bringing below-average winter precipitation for the second consecutive year, the impact of high food prices, sanctions on the de facto authorities, growing unemployment and possibly increased displacement. Reduced incomes, lower international and domestic remittances and continuing obstacles to humanitarian assistance (many related to the financial crisis and limited physical access during the winter period) are expected to contribute to the deterioration of food security.
The estimated 55% population in IPC Phase 3 or above in the November 2021 – March 2022 projection (lean season) is the highest ever recorded in the country. This record magnitude is preceded only by a 47% population classification in IPC Phase 3 or above in the Nov 2018 - Feb 2019 lean season. This previous classification focused on rural areas only, and the results were heavily affected by the severe drought of 2018 (a detailed population comparison is provided on page 9).
Drought: Twenty-five out of 34 provinces were affected by a severe drought. Below average cumulative precipitation during the wet season (Oct. 2020 – May 2021) resulted in reduced snowfall reducing water for cultivation.
Conflict: Increased conflict between January and September 2021 drove over 664,000 people out of their homes, disrupting their livelihood systems. This adds to about 3.5 million Afghans already displaced.
Economic Decline: In the wake of Afghanistan's political transition and the consequent freezing of US$ 9.5 billion in national assets, the economy plummeted. The banking system suffered severe disruption, and the national currency lost 12.5 percent of value, leading to high unemployment and food prices.