FAO in Afghanistan

Humanitarian situation

Afghanistan is experiencing a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedent scale and speed. 18.8 million people are facing acute food insecurity (IPC 3 Crisis or IPC 4 Emergency, according to the latest IPC assessment issued on 25 October 2021) amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the economic implosion and continuing drought. This represents a 37 percent increase since the assessment issued in April 2021.

FAO remains committed to serving the people of Afghanistan in these trying times in line with core humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence). Protecting critical agricultural livelihoods by providing timely humanitarian assistance is FAO’s priority during this crisis. 

As of 15 October 2021, FAO has directly supported 1.3 million people across 31 provinces of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. FAO is on track to reach a further 2.2 million people until the end of the year. However, Afghanistan’s farmers and livestock owners and herders need far more and urgently in light of the growing needs confirmed by the latest IPC assessment: 22.8 million people are expected to be facing acute hunger by the end of the year. 

FAO expects a massive increase in humanitarian needs in 2022 and looks forward to continuing its close collaboration with WFP and other humanitarian partners to assist all Afghan people in need.

"It is urgent that we act efficiently and effectively to speed up and scale up our delivery in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of the country, with millions of people – including farmers, women, young children and the elderly – going hungry in the freezing winter. It is a matter of life or death. We cannot wait and see humanitarian disasters unfolding in front of us – it is unacceptable."

FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu

Urgent priorities

  • Winter wheat season. FAO aims to assist 250 000 vulnerable farming families - some 1.5 million people - for the upcoming winter wheat season. Planting begins in runs until mid-December in southern provinces. However, current funding will only enable FAO to support 185 000 families. This support will directly benefit 1.3 million people.
  • This assistance package (50kg each of certified seed, DAP and urea fertilizers) enables a farming household to grow 1.2 to 1.4 metric tonnes of wheat, which is equivalent to their wheat needs for a year. The total cost of the package ranges from USD 120 to USD 140. This investment generates between USD 430 and USD 500 of market value for an average wheat harvest. On average, this means from three to four-fold percent return on investment.

"Afghanistan's incredible farmers, livestock owners and herders can bring the country back from the brink of catastrophe."

Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan

  • Support to livestock owners and herders affected by drought. Three million animals were estimated to be at risk in July, making livestock protection urgently critical for herders and livestock owners across the country.
  • FAO's assessment shows that a high percentage of marginal herders and livestock owners are at a crucial stage and unless they are supported, they may have no other option than to sell their livestock holdings due to increased fodder/feed prices and also be displaced.
  • In 2021, FAO has provided veterinary assistance to 328 100 small ruminants and 131 240 large ruminants. 

Funding needs. In order to assist these urgent needs, FAO still needs USD 11.4 million until the end of the year to provide urgent support to agricultural livelihoods. As funding needs are expected to grow exponentially next year, FAO is seeking a further USD 200 million for 2022.

How is FAO supporting Afghanistan in this current crisis?

  • Keeping livestock alive - FAO is helping livestock keepers and herders to protect their animals with concentrate feed, training, cash assistance, and veterinary support.
  • Ensuring a successful winter wheat season - FAO is also delivering assistance to wheat farmers with quality seeds, fertilizers and training. Supporting the winter wheat cultivation will be crucial to prevent further deterioration of food and livelihoods security – Afghanistan is already staring at a significant wheat deficit – 25 percent according to official estimates.
  • Providing cash assistance - FAO is providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable and food insecure families headed by women or people with disabilities or elderly, which in many cases don’t even have access to land or livestock assets. This cash assistance can be lifesaving and avoid families sliding into famine as we are facing this risk now. The aim is to leave no one behind.
  • Livelihood assistance is also supporting women. Vulnerable food insecure families are also being supported with either backyard poultry rearing packages or vegetable/home gardening cultivation inputs and training to enable cultivation of vegetables for domestic consumption and some surplus for sale in local markets to generate cash incomes. 
  • This support is particularly designed to assist women in need, who in many cases, according to the culture and norms, do not work out of their homes. These packages provide them with an opportunity to earn an income and improve the nutrition of their families.
  • Across all activties, FAO continues to inform people about the COVID- 19 pandemic, which is far from over in Afghanistan, and in doing so supporting the steady functioning of the main agriculture and livestock/live animal markets.