1. Summary of needs from the HNO to be addressed by the cluster (550 words):
Afghanistan is an arid and semi-arid country. Most of the problems that affect food production are related to weather conditions: drought/desertification, heat waves, strong wind, floods, harsh winter, poor security situation, lack of services in rural areas and access to markets. Heavy fighting and raising fright caused by insecurity and pressure displaced thousands of people all over Afghanistan in 2016. It is expected that in 2017 more than half million people will need support as they leave their homes towns to escape form the violence (IDPs).
Among the world's most stubborn refugee crises which have been forgotten frequently, is the depressed fortune of millions of Afghan exiles. This is the world longest running refugee crisis, which has been begun in 1979 upon the Russians invasion. After about thirty years there are still more than 1.6 million registered and 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan alone. In addition, more than 0.9 million Afghans still live in Iran as well. After Syria, the largest groups of asylum seekers struggling to reach Europe with smugglers support in 2016 are Afghans. 2016 remained very challenging for Afghan refugees in Pakistan because of political problems and border issues at Torkhum. Since January 2016, more than 614,225 undocumented returnees (244,125) and registered refugees (370,102) have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan. Of these, 93% (571,747) have returned since July. Additionally, on average almost 200,000 people are affected by localized floods across the country.
Food insecurity in Afghanistan is on the rise, with almost 6% (1.6 million) of Afghans severely food insecure and another 34% (9.7 million) moderately food insecure at the national level. In 2016 the crop harvest remained below the 2015 and 5-year average production rate with a total deficit of almost 1.2 million metric tons. Continued conflict, exposure to natural hazards and economic slowdown are affecting everyone particularly the vulnerable. Labor migration, conflictinduced displacement, and the sudden increase of returnees from Pakistan is taking place against a backdrop of the continued high level of conflict-induced displacement; these, in turn, are increasing the rates of and burden on the urban and rural poor population and are increasing pressure on recessed labor markets, resulting in reduced income, price hikes, asset depletion and depressed wages. Natural disasters and conflict-induced migrations further deteriorate income and production, increasing vulnerability both at household and community levels. In 2016 farmers were also affected by pest attack locust infestation and wheat rust particularly in Ghor and Bamyan provinces along with localized floods and dry spells, damaging large swaths of crops and severely impacting on food stocks and income.
The recent Seasonal Food Security Assessment (SFSA) found that market prices for basic commodities in areas affected by increased returns have increased whereas labor wage rates have gone down significantly. The initial rapid assessment of returnees indicated that families had less than a week’s worth of food stocks. As a result, new conflict IDPs, returnees, host communities and refugees remain in need of critical humanitarian assistance; based on preliminary findings, food, livelihood support, shelter, and protection are identified as major humanitarian needs.
The majority of the rural population depends on agriculture, livestock and daily wage labor and is extremely vulnerable to shocks and natural disasters. The poorest are the worst hit by conflict, natural disasters such as floods, localized dry spells, pest attacks and the economic slowdown, and are affected by the decreased availability of unskilled work which is pushing wage rates down. The inevitable resorting to negative coping strategies, such as the withdrawal of children from school, distress sales of livestock or even the sale of land, directly affects their immediate and future food security