Afghanistan

EU humanitarian aid and FAO partner to assist highly food insecure people in Afghanistan

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One in three Afghans are acutely food insecure © FAO/Jena Jaddin

New EUR 2 million intervention to assist 88 200 people in four provinces through anticipatory actions to prevent massive loss of livestock due to La Niña induced drought

4 May 2021, Kabul - The European Union humanitarian aid agency and FAO will be partnering to anticipate the expected impacts of La Niña induced drought conditions on livestock production and food security in Afghanistan, and thus to mitigate the risks for some of the most vulnerable and food insecure people to slide into acute hunger and displacement.

"Based on the weather forecast for the upcoming months and the already evident signs of drought conditions in many areas across the country, we need to protect the most vulnerable rural people to meet their most basic needs and safeguard their livelihoods," said Luigi Pandolfi, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. "Otherwise, there is a risk of people sliding into severe hunger and malnutrition, and resorting to desperate measures, such as distress sale of their livestock and migration from rural areas, as was the case during the drought in 2017-2018," added Pandolfi.

Thanks to the EUR 2 million provided by the European Union humanitarian aid, FAO will assist 88 200 food insecure people in the provinces of Badghis, Badakhshan, Faryab, and Nuristan. This new FAO emergency intervention reinforces similar ongoing efforts of the UN agency across the country to protect rural livelihoods and food and nutrition security.

"While we are already seeing the early effects of drought on herding communities, we will only be able to see the full and cascading impacts of the current drought conditions on agriculture livelihoods and food security during the lean season, from October onward. As usual, there is a seasonal time lag in the manifestation of the drought effects, but that's precisely why we must act now towards building the critical near-term resilience of vulnerable rural people for them to be in a better position to withstand the negative impacts," said Rajendra Aryal, FAO Representative in Afghanistan.

**Cash+ assistance: Protecting instead of rebuilding **

This humanitarian intervention will protect the livestock livelihoods of 6 300 vulnerable families (44 100 people) with Cash+ assistance. Each household will receive a livestock protection package, consisting of 200 kg of concentrate animal feed, deworming medicine and veterinary assistance. The distribution of inputs is scheduled to be provided during May and June, as the initial effects of drought are already evident on animals.

This assistance will be coupled with a one-off unconditional cash transfer (USD 50 per family) and technical training on livestock management related issues. The combination of livestock related inputs and cash assistance is aimed to enable people to safeguard livestock health, protect their productive livelihood assets, help them buy inputs, tools or paying debts, and covering their most immediate food needs as well as avoiding distress sale of animals.

Under this EU humanitarian funding, FAO will also provide cash assistance to another 6 300 vulnerable landless households (44 100 people). Families headed by women, elderly and people with disabilities will be prioritized. All these 6 300 families will receive a total of three unconditional cash transfers (USD 50) in three consecutive months over the summer of 2021 to "ensure predictability and consistency, and so that households can plan their budgets accordingly and use the money to accessing nutritious food, cover their daily needs and avoid resorting to negative coping actions," said Rajendra Aryal.

Unconditional cash transfers are equivalent to more than half (55%) of the standard monthly food basket for a family of seven members, according to the estimates of the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster in Afghanistan.

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.