Whole of Afghanistan Multi-Sector Needs Assessment, August 2018



After 17 years of continued crisis, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most complex humanitarian emergencies, driven by escalating conflict and a devastating drought with a precipitation deficit of more than 70% in the preceding year across almost two-thirds of the country. The drought, in particular, resulted in high levels of forced displacement in 2018, with 263,000 new drought internally displaced persons (IDPs) and almost 290,000 conflict IDPs registered as of October this year. Corresponding humanitarian needs for livelihoods and basic services were furthermore exacerbated by 702,000 refugee returns from Pakistan and Iran between January and October 2018 and the needs of 78,000 Pakistani refugees residing in south-east Afghanistan. In addition to these groups, an increasing number of non-displaced populations require lifesaving humanitarian assistance, with a total of 3.3 million people facing emergency levels of food insecurity in September 2018.

The combination of these factors, resulted in almost twice as many people in need projected by the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (2019), compared to the previous year. Throughout 2019, the HNO estimates 6.3 million people to need lifesaving assistance in Afghanistan, cutting across sectors, including Education in Emergencies (EiE), Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items (ES-NFIs), Food Security and Agriculture (FSAC), Health, Nutrition, Protection, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

Alongside 17 sector-specific assessments, the Whole of Afghanistan Assessment (WoAA) provided the main and most comprehensive data source for the 2019 HNO analysis. The assessment covered needs relevant to all national Clusters, in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and across 70 of the country’s hard-to-reach (HTR) districts. This report builds on and complements the 2019 HNO analysis and offers additional insights into unmet sectoral needs and, most importantly, inter-sectoral findings – identifying how Cluster needs overlap, interact and exacerbate one another. The WoAA thereby, as the first assessment of its kind in Afghanistan, provides an evidence base for integrated response planning to effectively address inter-sectoral drivers of need across geographical areas and population groups.


The WoAA research framework and questionnaire components were developed in close coordination with the Humanitarian Coordinated Assessment Working Group (HCAWG), the Inter-Cluster Coordination Team (ICCT), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). From July to August 2018, the WoAA team conducted 22,135 structured interviews in accessible areas throughout all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
The interviews were randomly sampled and stratified according to displacement status, including recent IDP, nonrecent IDP, returnee, refugee, and host community households. Findings based on the household-level assessment are generalisable at the provincial level for displaced populations overall, and for each of the population groups at the regional level, with a confidence level of 95% and 5% margin of error. Assisting with the data collection were 16 national partner organisations, coordinated through the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR).

Given that household-level surveys could only be conducted in accessible areas, the WoAA team conducted an additional 1,392 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) in 70 HTR districts, spread across 20 provinces. The KIIs were structured around Basic Service Units (BSUs), geographical catchment areas in which a community draws on shared basic services. The community, reflected by the BSU, is accordingly the KIIs’ unit of analysis. In addition, 143 KIIs were conducted in October 2018 with health-care specialists in all provinces to provide insights into trauma injuries and care. Lastly community members, chosen for their knowledge of their communities, participated in 68 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) (2 per province) to provide insights into more sensitive topics, including gender based violence (GBV) and child protection, and to gain a better understanding of quantitative findings. Findings of the KIIs or FGDs are not representative.

As the report aims to complement the 2019 HNO and the inter-sector severity scale (ISSS) the HNO needs analysis was based upon, the WoAA sector indexes of unmet needs were based almost entirely on indicators not included in the HNO’s People in Need (PiN) calculations. All WoAA indicators were initially agreed upon with the Humanitarian Coordinated Access Working Group (HCAWG) in June 2018.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.