Afghanistan Remote Monitoring Update: Atypically high humanitarian assistance needs are increasing as lean season progresses, February 2022


Key Messages

  • Income losses and significantly above-average prices are constraining food access for an increasing number of households in both rural and urban areas. The ILO estimates that around 500,000 people lost their jobs in the third quarter of 2021. In Kabul, wheat flour prices in early February 2022 were 81 percent above the five-year average. After an early start to the lean season, an above-average number of rural households are expected to have exhausted food stocks, increasing reliance on market purchases while availability of income-earning opportunities is at seasonally low levels.

  • Despite declarations that the country’s banking sector will resume normal operations, the central bank of Afghanistan has not been able to normalize the banking system due to liquidity shortages which have prevented it from repaying foreign currency liabilities owed to commercial banks. According to key informants, most people are able to withdraw cash within the set weekly limits, though some banks are experiencing periodic shortages of cash, forcing them to deny payments to customers.

  • Precipitation received since late December 2021 has improved the performance of the 2021/22 wet season to date. As the winter wet season (October 2021 to February 2022) draws to a close, cumulative precipitation is now likely near average to above average in eastern and some western areas, though below average across most of the country (Figures 1 & 2). Though ground information is limited, it is expected that recent precipitation and improved soil moisture has supported spring planting and normal germination of the winter crop. However, given below-average snowpack and forecast below-average precipitation during the March to May 2022 spring season, wheat production is likely to be below-average at the national level, with the greatest concern for deficits in northern rainfed areas.

  • As the lean season progresses, more households will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in rural and urban areas. With the start of harvesting around May/June in lower elevation areas and July/August in higher elevation areas, seasonal improvements in food availability will likely improve outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most rural areas. However, in the June to September period, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to re-emerge in areas worst impacted by below-average crop and livestock production. In urban areas, typical spring improvement in economic activity will be less than normal given reduced investment in the country, though some increases in income-earning will likely support improved food access for poor households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level.

  • Humanitarian assistance continues to be significantly scaled up, beyond what was planned in 2021. WFP reported reaching 8.5 million people with food and nutrition assistance (expected to include a variety of programs) in January 2022, more than eight times the 900,000 reached in January 2021. WFP plans to reach 15 million people in February 2022. Other organizations such as the Red Crescent are also distributing assistance. Though precise information is limited, in total, 10-30 percent of the population, on average, is expected to be receiving emergency food assistance during the lean season. High levels of assistance are likely preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in some central highland provinces.