AFGHANISTAN: Appeal for cash to feed 4.5 million people
KABUL, 9 July 2008 (IRIN) – The government of Afghanistan and the UN on 9
July launched a Joint Emergency Appeal for over US$404 million to provide an
emergency safety-net for 4.5 million vulnerable Afghans who have been pushed
into “high-risk” food-insecurity.
This significant portion of Afghanistan’s total estimated population of 26.6
million has fallen into the “high risk” category due to high food prices,
drought and a sharp decrease in domestic agricultural production.
“This appeal for over $404 million aims to ensure the food security of
450,000 urban and rural households that have been hit hardest by worldwide food
price hikes. A further 300,000 farming families will receive vital livestock and
agricultural assistance, while 550,000 women and children under five years old
will receive help to protect them from malnutrition,” said the appeal, which was
launched in Kabul.
“Afghanistan is facing a food crisis which will turn into a human catastrophe
if donors do not act promptly,” Karim Khalili, the country’s second
Bo Asplund, the UN humanitarian coordinator and deputy special representative
of the Secretary-General, said there was an urgent need to deliver “life-saving”
aid to the most vulnerable Afghans.
“The needs are great and the time is limited… We urge donors to step forward
with commitments of support that will enable us to provide essential food, water
and health services to vulnerable groups over the next 12 months,” said Asplund.
The new appeal covers more people and is intended for a longer period than
the first joint emergency appeal, which was launched in January but has only
reached about 33 percent of its targeted 2.55 million people to date.
Insecurity, logistical and import hurdles have complicated and delayed aid
delivery to a number of needy communities, but UN and Afghan officials say the
January appeal will be completed by the end of August.
Prices of wheat and wheat flour, the main staples for Afghans, have gone up
by 200 percent country-wide over the past year, according to the appeal.
Some 12 million Afghans (42 percent of the population) live below the poverty
line, with per capita incomes of 45 US cents per day or less. These people are
unable to meet their basic food requirements, according to the appeal.
About 85 percent of Afghan households spend most of their income on food, the
findings of a National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) say.
Most affected by the unprecedented hikes in food prices, severe drought and
the failure of rain-fed agriculture (which accounts for 35 percent of domestic
production) are “small farmers, landless people, nomads and casual labourers”,
aid agencies said.
The worsening food-insecurity has sparked concerns about increasing
malnutrition among under-five children, lactating and pregnant women.
The Ministry of Public Health said “preliminary results of the ongoing rapid
nutrition assessment in 22 of the country’s 34 provinces show Global Acute
Malnutrition of 19.7 percent and Severe Acute Malnutrition of 6.7 percent in
6-58 month old children.”
“Twenty four percent of lactating women are malnourished and 19 percent of
pregnant women have a poor nutrition status,” it added.
Avoiding “a prolonged relief situation”
About 50 percent of the requested funding is intended for food aid, which
will be distributed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its local partners,
mostly through food-for-work projects.
The appeal includes various other components – such as health, water and
sanitation, temporary shelter, livestock recovery and agriculture support
activities – to be implemented within 12 months (July 2008 – July 2009).
The government will lead the implementation phase in close collaboration with
UN agencies and national and international non-governmental organisations.
“The appeal also aims to avoid a prolonged relief situation… This will help
avoid another emergency appeal,” Second Vice-President Khalili said.