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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Afghanistan

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Afghanistan
Nov 2010

The need for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan has increased significantly in 2010 as a result of ongoing violent conflict, natural disasters, extreme weather and poor infrastructure.

These contributing factors have limited effective recovery and development activities. Millions of Afghans, particularly rural populations, women and children, remain chronically vulnerable to food insecurity, forced displacement and lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

The economy of Afghanistan has shown little progress in 2010. The lack of economic opportunity, limited access to markets and distribution points, and high unemployment rates compromise livelihoods and leave vulnerable communities highly susceptible to shocks like natural disasters or conflicts.

The security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as the number of civilian casualties and attacks on humanitarian aid workers increase. While attacks have occurred predominantly in or near anti-government strongholds, they have also spread to areas that were previously considered more stable.

In June 2010, the Government formed a High Peace Council, comprised of senior government and civil society representatives to engage in a dialogue with anti-government elements. The prevailing political environment presents challenges for access, security and government partnerships.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

More than 80 percent of the Afghan population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods. Approximately one‑third of the population is food insecure and will require agricultural assistance in 2011. The total annual cereal requirement for Afghanistan is estimated at 6.5 million tonnes. After significant commercial importation and humanitarian assistance, there is still a cereal deficit of 753 000 tonnes, almost all of which is for wheat, which is the staple crop of the Afghan population. Despite improved harvests in 2009 and 2010, the agriculture sector in Afghanistan remains susceptible to natural disasters, extreme weather patterns and pandemics.

Prices for basic food goods have risen sharply in 2010 and are expected to increase even more in 2011 as a result of the summer 2010 flooding in Pakistan (from where much of Afghanistan’s commodity supplies are imported) and a reduction in exportable wheat from the Black Sea region producers. The overall price of cereals is still 24 percent higher than before the 2007/08 global food price crisis. The food security situation is likely to worsen during the winter 2011 lean season, which is expected to be more severe than in the preceding year.

In addition to food insecurity, malnutrition continues to be a serious and growing problem in Afghanistan. The number of people lacking the minimum daily caloric intake has steadily increased since 2005. An estimated 422 000 Afghan children are acutely malnourished, whereas chronic malnutrition affects another 2 910 000. As a result of poor dietary diversity and inadequate child feeding practices, approximately 75 percent of Afghan women and children have some form of micronutrient deficiency. More than one-third of Afghan children under the age of five are underweight and more than half experience stunting. Poor access to basic services such as primary health care, clean water, and sanitation facilities exacerbates the situation.

FAO response

As the co-lead of the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster as well as the Nutrition Cluster, FAO has prepared an integrated package of programme responses aimed at raising agricultural productivity and resilience to shocks.

The distribution of seed and fertilizer is expected to facilitate the immediate resumption of wheat and vegetable planting for 40 000 disaster-affected farming families. FAO aims to provide animal feed and veterinary services to an additional 40 000 rural households in order to protect livestock assets and increase income-generating activities. Access to agricultural inputs and improved practices such as crop rotation and diversification will enable vulnerable rural households of Afghanistan to better cope with agricultural shocks. FAO also aims to support local food production through the promotion of vegetable gardens and the provision of training, especially to pregnant and lactating mothers, in household gardening and nutrition. More than 100 000 people stand to benefit from increased access to locally grown fresh vegetables and improved nutrition awareness.

FAO has also positioned itself to create an inclusive national coordination mechanism that ensures a wellcoordinated, coherent, strategic and effective food security and agriculture assistance programme to address the short-, medium-, and long-term challenges of achieving sustainable food security in Afghanistan.