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Afghanistan | FAO and Belgium assist food-insecure farming households impacted by the shock of COVID-19

Afghanistan | FAO and Belgium assist food-insecure farming households impacted by the shock of COVID-19

03/09/2020

Afghanistan is suffering from one of the most severe food crises worldwide. According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, Afghanistan is ranked as the third worst crisis country globally, and food insecurity has significantly worsened since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broke out in the country. The shock caused by COVID-19 comes on the back of 40 plus years of ongoing conflict, displacements, sudden onset shocks and weak social safety nets, which have severely debilitated the coping capacities of vulnerable households across the country. Even before the emergence of COVID-19, Afghanistan had nearly one third of its population in need of urgent food and livelihood assistance.

The COVID-19 public health emergency has rapidly developed into a food and livelihood crisis. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis from May 2020 reveals that the total number of people projected to be in acute food insecurity has increased by around 1 million, from 2.4 to 3.3 million since COVID-19 containment measures were implemented. Further, the World Bank’s July 2020 estimates indicate a sharp rise poverty in Afghanistan, from 55 percent in 2017 to 72 percent.

The agriculture sector has been adversely impacted by COVID-19, according to a joint-needs assessment conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in June/July2020. The sector is the main source of livelihood for close to 80 percent of the Afghan population, and marginalized smallholder farmers have expressed a need to gain access to quality agricultural inputs to withstand this shock and safeguard their families’ food security

Without time-critical productive assistance, vulnerable farming households’ food insecurity will worsen further, potentially compelling them to adopt negative coping strategies, including extreme actions like selling productive assets, forced migration and increased gender-based violence. It is therefore critical to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable smallholders and support the recovery of the agriculture sector.

Through SFERA, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium contributed USD 450 000 to FAO to mitigate the potential adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the food security of vulnerable households in Afghanistan. With Belgium’s generous support, FAO will assist 2 900 households (20 300 people) by providing them with season-sensitive agricultural inputs, accompanied by training in good agricultural practices, to improve their food security and nutrition.

Project | Emergency agriculture assistance to food insecure and vulnerable marginal farming households impacted by COVID-19 and other recent shocks 

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