Favorable precipitation likely to facilitate drought recovery for second consecutive season
Many poor households across the country are facing food consumption gaps as households have depleted their food stocks and face difficulty accessing income to purchase food. Many of these households are in the Central Highlands and Northeastern parts of the country with these areas facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in areas where households have access to remittances or labor opportunities although at below average levels. As winter progresses, more households are expected to rely on markets for food with below average purchasing power. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge across parts of the country.
Irrigated winter wheat planting finished in late December/early January across the country at average levels. In some parts of the country, mainly northern and northeastern areas, due to the slightly below average cumulative precipitation, agriculture activities were delayed. Although, it is expected planting will resume once Spring begins in March/April, facilitated by the forecast for average to above average precipitation. In parts of the country, some conflict affected, and displaced households have limited access to crop inputs, limiting their ability to engage in the Spring agriculture season.
Average 2019 wheat production and consistent regional and national trade flows of staple foods have contributed to stable prices of most goods across the country. Current wheat prices across main cities are negligibly higher than the same time last year and the five-year average. Despite average wheat prices, household purchasing power is below average as labor opportunities and wage rates are below normal. This is limiting some household’s ability to purchase food.
According to the IOM, since the beginning of January 2020, almost 11,000 undocumented Afghans returned from Iran and Pakistan. This is a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year. 700 people have been newly displaced by conflict in January 2020. As many returnees and displaced households move to urban areas in search of labor opportunities, wage rates for labor is decreasing due to above average supply. These populations are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity as they have lost their typical livelihood activities and have limited ability to enter the labor markets.