KABUL/LONDON– The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a contribution of £15 million (US$20 million) from the United Kingdom towards its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to help families in Afghanistan who are facing food shortages get through winter.
The contribution through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will allow WFP to support 100,000 families affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 with cash-based assistance in seven cities. More than 25,000 vulnerable families will also be reached with a combination of wheat flour and cash to help cover their food needs in the winter months.
“The most vulnerable and food-insecure families in Afghanistan are being hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are Afghans struggling through insecurity and conflict, but they are dealing with an increase in food prices, decrease in purchasing power and large-scale unemployment,” said Alison Blake, British Ambassador to Afghanistan. “The United Kingdom’s £15 million contribution to the WFP will help more than 870,000 people affected by COVID-19, or facing seasonal food insecurity in some of the most remote areas of Afghanistan during the harsh winter months.”
In urban areas across the country, the pandemic has obliterated work and livelihood opportunities for the many families who rely on day labour, small trade or remittances for survival. WFP assistance will also protect these families against resorting to negative coping mechanisms such as eating fewer and smaller meals, sending children to work or into early marriage or begging on the streets.
“We are grateful for this significant contribution from the United Kingdom at this critical moment when needs are skyrocketing due to COVID-19 and winter is only weeks away,” said WFP Afghanistan Representative and Country Director Mary-Ellen McGroarty. “Afghanistan could face its most devastating food security crisis in decades, concerted action and support is urgently required.”
Currently, 16.9 million people in Afghanistan are severely food insecure, up by 4.5 million people prior to the pandemic, and 2.9 million girls, boys and pregnant and breastfeeding women are suffering from malnutrition.
By end of the year, WFP plans to reach 10.2 million people with food assistance, including 3 million people affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. Faced with the spiralling levels of food insecurity, WFP plans to further increase the number of people to assist in 2021 to 13 million girls, boys, women and men. Funding needs to do so likely will surpass US$460 million, up from US$352 million in 2020.
The United Kingdom’s contribution to Afghanistan is part of a £119 million (US$154 million) aid package to help WFP and other aid agencies tackle the combined threat of coronavirus and famines, which is expected to help alleviate extreme hunger for over 6 million people in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, the Sahel, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
This latest contribution from FCDO follows contributions of almost US$30 million in 2018 to help WFP respond to the needs of 3.5 million people struck by the worst drought in a decade in two thirds of the country.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.