In 2020, Afghanistan continues to face protracted conflict that has been raging for almost forty years, exposing civilians to daily deadly risks, prompting mass displacement, and depleting the country’s already unstable economy. Resilience of communities has been further eroded by recurrent and severe natural disasters. Consequently, years of shocks have resulted in an acutely vulnerable population with few economic resources, an eroded capacity to cope with the unfolding crisis, and little hope of recovery if the current conditions persist. The 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) outlined the need for a multi-sector rapid response, which includes food assistance, shelter, NFIs and WASH, and identified sectoral and multi-purpose cash assistance as a key modality through which to address these needs.
Coordinated by the Afghanistan Cash and Voucher Working Group (CVWG) humanitarian partners have been implementing, and continue to scale up, Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) to address needs. However, this requires markets to function properly and to provide basic commodities continuously. Disruptions to the supply chains may affect the availability of basic goods, as well as commodity prices, thus negatively impacting households’ ability to access basic food and non-food items to support their livelihoods. It is therefore critical for the humanitarian community to widen the evidence base and to develop a deeper understanding of the complex market dynamics in Afghanistan.
While much of the data needed for effective decision making regarding market availability of goods, prices, supply chains, and minimum expenditure baskets already exists in Afghanistan, there is a lack of consistency in the type and frequency through which data is collected, making national comparisons difficult. Working with the CVWG and its partners, including WFP (as co-lead of the CVWG), and INGO, implementing partners of the ECHO-funded Emergency Response Mechanism Round 10 (ERM10), REACH proposes to facilitate a partner-driven Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI) in Afghanistan.
The JMMI is an established global assessment framework facilitated by REACH in six countries, aimed at standardizing and coordinating the collection and analysis of market functionality and price data to inform actors on the effectiveness of cash interventions on the basis of the local economy and to inform the calculation of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) transfer value. Data collection will be partner-led and jointly coordinated to enhance equitable access to information and avoid duplication. In addition, the initiative will comprise of monthly rounds of assessment and analysis of MEB items availability/accessibility and market functionality to provide regular market-monitoring data as well as availability and price trends for a broader picture of fluctuations in market functionality across districts and time. This will greatly contribute to the evidence base for CVWG and partners to assess critical market dynamics as an integral part of cash feasibility considerations.