Widespread conflict continues to disrupt livelihoods; drive acute food insecurity
- Poor households who have been impacted by conflict, weak labor markets, or localized precipitation anomalies for rainfed areas remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) prior to spring labor opportunities and the sale and consumption of livestock products. Households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present throughout the country. Furthermore, many of the nearly 650,000 people displaced by conflict in 2016, as well as hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghan returnees from Pakistan, are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the absence of assistance.
- In mid-February, Pakistan closed its two main border crossings with Afghanistan to trade and population movement (Torkham in Nangarhar Province, and Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province). The borders were re-opened in late March. The closure led to price increases of some products including rice, but wheat flour prices remained stable. The temporary border closure also impacted economic activity, particularly in the construction sector as costs of materials spiked due to the restricted trade with Pakistan.
- After below-average precipitation during the first months of the wet season, widespread precipitation in late January, February, and early March has led to average to above-average snowpack throughout the country. The availability of water for first season irrigated crops, primarily wheat, will be sufficient for normal development. There is an increased risk of flooding through at least April, due to forecasts for above-average temperatures and near-record snow accumulation in some basins.
- Rainfed wheat planting is underway, and forecast models indicate an increased probability for above-average precipitation during the remainder of the wet season through May. However, there remains a wide spread of possibilities for cumulative precipitation, and geographic and temporal rainfall distribution will also be critical to rainfed harvest outcomes.