1. Summary of needs from the HNO to be addressed by the cluster:
Food insecurity in Afghanistan is on the rise with widespread acute and chronic food needs as a result of multiple drivers, including conflict, cross-border population movement, and climate change. The 2017 integrated food security phase classification (IPC) exercise has assessed 1.9 million people in Phase 4 (emergency), 5.6 million in Phase 3 (crisis), and nearly 10 million in Phase 2 (stressed) levels of food insecurity. According to the recent seasonal food security assessment (SFSA), nearly half of the population has also experienced some kind of shock, affecting their ability to feed their families.
These include loss of employment (27%) and reduced income (13%). Natural disasters such as floods, localized drought, and pest attacks in 2017 have affected crop and livestock production in various parts of the country, particularly in Badghis, Balkh, Ghor, Kabul, Kunar, and Nangarhar provinces. According to the agriculture prospect report from April 2017, wheat production in 2017 has been one of the worst in the past five years, with a total deficit of nearly 1.4 million metric tons. Internal displacement due to conflict and natural disasters, high numbers of Afghans returning from Pakistan and Iran, and economic migration contributes to food insecurity in the country, especially in areas with high concentrations of IDPs and returnees.
Conflict: This is the largest driver of humanitarian needs. FSAC has projected 1.3 million people in need of food assistance due to conflict. Needs assessments carried out in 2017 have found that 81% of displaced population are severely food insecure. Conflict has also reduced income and food production in affected communities. The 2017 SFSA found that 11% of families reported earning much less income, and 48% reported earning less income as compared to the previous year.
Most of these families have no intention to return to their places of origin, citing security (50%), land grabbing (20%), and the sale of productive assets (7%) as the reasons why. Nearly all mentioned food assistance as the top priority among multiple survival needs.
Natural disaster: Food insecurity is also driven by natural disasters. Climate change, extreme weather conditions, and pest attacks critically compromise food and livelihoods within rural communities and affect around 250,000 people a year. The provinces of Badakhshan, Badghis, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Faryab, Ghor, Herat, Jawzjan, Kabul, Nangarhar,
Samangan, Sari-pul, Takhar, and Zabul are the worst affected. FSAC has projected approximately 280,000 people in need of food assistance in 2018 as a result of natural disasters. Rural populations that rely on agriculture (66.4%) and livestock (69%) are the most vulnerable. With few options available, these households rely on unsustainable coping strategies such as further migration or sales of valuable assets such as livestock or land, which have negative effects on immediate and longer-term food and livelihood security. Forty-one percent of surveyed communities reported using crises or emergency livelihood coping strategies in the 2017 SFSA.
Cross boarder movement: Cross-border movement is a considerable challenge for humanitarian partners and the government. UNHCR has estimated 200,000 documented returnees and IOM has estimated 180,000 undocumented returnees for 2018. The FSAC assessment carried out in the eastern region in April 2017, indicated that 72 percent of returnees are food insecure and require a minimum of three months’ assistance. The influx of new IDPs and returnees into already poor and stressed parts of urban areas has created additional competition for scarce job opportunities, resulting in reduced labour wage rates.
In total, FSAC has identified 1.9 million people affected by conflict, natural disasters, and cross border flows who will need assistance during 2018, predominantly in the southern, northern, and eastern regions. Recognising the fact that there is a significant proportion of the Afghan community facing widespread chronic food insecurity, development partners and government will need to scale up their programme to vulnerable people in hard to reach areas. FSAC will continue to advocate for these communities and guide partners’ efforts to link humanitarian interventions with longterm development programmes for sustainable food security outcomes.