Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest countries, is also among the most challenging for WFP operations anywhere across the globe. The effects of two decades of war and civil unrest have been compounded by recurring natural disasters, including severe droughts, floods and harsh winters.
Access and movement has been fiercely restricted by growing insecurity, particularly in the south and east of the country. Despite the obstacles, WFP remains operational in almost all parts of the country, through its five area offices and four sub-offices.
Its current operation aims to provide 520,000 metric tons of food to 6.6 million Afghans between January 2006 and December 2008 at an overall cost of nearly US$385 million.
Resourcing is a constant concern; under the current funding situation, WFP will run out of food in September and requires an additional US$27 million to keep operations going until the end of the year. Canada has been one of WFP's most reliable, consistent and generous donors. With respect to operations in the south of the country:
- Reports that there has been no substantial food assistance to Kandahar Province since March 2006 are inaccurate.
- Food assistance provided through WFP to the province was in excess of 10,000 metric tons in 2006 against needs assessed at 14,700 tons to feed 350,000 people.
- In July, in collaboration with the Government of Afghanistan, WFP will begin the next Risk and Vulnerability Assessment, a nationwide effort carried out every two years. The assessment seeks to identify the most food insecure parts of the country and is the basis for WFP food assistance interventions.
- In 2007, WFP plans to provide more than 20,000 tons of food to Kandahar Province for about 600,000 beneficiaries.
- So far, 8,000 metric tons have been distributed since the start of the year to a range of beneficiaries including temporarily displaced persons, primary school children, tuberculosis patients and their families, food for work participants engaged in asset creation and vulnerable families affected by last year's serious drought.
- The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has provided funds for 9,700 tons of food for Kandahar this year - almost half of WFP's planned distributions in the province for the whole year.
- WFP's increased assistance in Kandahar has been possible in large part thanks to CIDA, which since November 2006 has been the largest donor to WFP operations in the province.
- CIDA has, moreover, consistently stated its continuing commitment to maintaining WFP's ability to supply food aid to the needy population of Kandahar. CIDA has provided a guarantee of additional funding to mitigate any possible food crisis.
- Since January 2006, when WFP's current two-year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) in Afghanistan began, donations from CIDA have so far amounted to CDN$11.9 million (US$10.4 million), making Canada the third-largest country-donor to WFP in Afghanistan.
- WFP has seen no evidence of starvation in Kandahar city, although there are many people who have inadequate diets both in terms of the amount of food available to them and in diet diversity.
- There are no camps for displaced people in Kandahar city. There are, however, temporary informal settlements mainly inhabited by seasonal migrants - Kuchis - who also may avail themselves of WFP food assistance.
- There are also informal settlements in other districts of the Province which had served as camps for displaced persons prior to March 2006. While general food distributions ceased more than one year ago, WFP still undertakes food for work activities in the these areas.