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Afghanistan: Humanitarian Action Plan 2009

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Action Plan 2009

14/01/2009

Despite the considerable progress made since 2001, Afghanistan remains an extremely poor country, with living standards that are among the lowest in the world. Some 42 percent of its population lives on less than USD 1 per day. In 2008, the conflict in Afghanistan intensified, rendering about 40 percent of the country, including much of the south, inaccessible to most humanitarian organizations.

In particular, the significant rise in the number of attacks on aid agency staff and assets has impacted on their capacity to provide urgently needed support to civilians. Armed conflict and ethnic tensions, combined with a perilous food security situation that has affected about one-sixth of the population, has led to the displacement of thousands and slowed efforts to reintegrate and resettle existing internally displaced persons and refugees. Afghanistan is prone to natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, earthquakes and avalanches. Communities have a very low capacity to cope with these events, which increase their vulnerability to food insecurity.

In 2008, more than half of the country received less than 25 percent of normal rainfall, which resulted in the lowest harvest since 2002. Current humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are extremely high owing to conflict, extreme poverty and underdevelopment, global high food prices, drought and continued displacement. In response, the United Nations and its partners launched the 2009 Afghanistan Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) on 14 January 2009, seeking over USD 603 million to meet the immediate needs and build the resilience of the most vulnerable people.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Spiraling global prices for food and fuel had a serious impact on the livelihoods of Afghan families, with the average household spending up to 77 percent of their income on food in 2008, compared with 56 percent in 2005. This pushed millions of vulnerable people into a situation of food insecurity.

In September 2008, the price of wheat in the country’s main cities averaged 150 percent higher than in September 2007.  At the same time, agricultural production has been hit by a countrywide drought, with farmers able to produce enough to meet only 67 percent of the country’s food needs. Those in need of relief and recovery assistance are spread across all 34 provinces. In 2009, the security situation is likely to further deteriorate, while the effects of drought and the food price crisis will continue to affect the food security of the Afghan population. Melting winter snows are the main source of water for farming and, with snows at below-normal levels, there is serious concern that this could result in another year of poor agricultural production.

FAO response

In 2001, FAO established an Emergency and Rehabilitation Unit (ERU) in Afghanistan.  Through the ERU, FAO has implemented a range of activities to enable conflict-affected and vulnerable households to restart agricultural production. Under the Humanitarian Action Plan 2009, FAO is seeking over USD 14 million to implement essential activities to rebuild the productive capacities of poor households in Afghanistan. As the co-lead, with the World Food Programme, of the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC), FAO will continue to work closely with the Government and other partners to develop more permanent solutions to overcome vulnerability and food insecurity by increasing domestic food production and enhancing local incomes. The key objectives of the FSAC sector in 2009 include:

  • increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers;
  • assisting vulnerable households to enhance and protect their livestock assets;
  • strengthening links between agricultural activities and food aid; and
  • protecting livelihoods and supporting and strengthening the resilience of communities through safety net and asset creation.