FAO in Afghanistan

Humanitarian situation

Afghanistan is experiencing a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedent scale and speed. Almost 23 million people, one in two Afghans, are facing acute food insecurity (IPC 3 Crisis or IPC 4 Emergency, according to the latest IPC assessment issued on 25 October 2021). Since the previous assessment issued in April 2021, food insecurity soared 37 percent amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the economic implosion and the impact of drought.

FAO remains committed to serving the people of Afghanistan in these trying times in line with core humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence).

FAO continues to protect rural livelihoods and agriculture as a core element of the immediate emergency humanitarian response to Afghanistan’s crisis.

Supporting agriculture, the backbone of Afghanistan’s economy, is the path to the longer term recovery as it is a cost-effective, strategic and long-lasting intervention. Growing food right where is needed is the best way to fight hunger.

In 2021, FAO supported 2.62 million people across 31 provinces of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces; out of which 1.37 million received assistance in the last quarter of the year following the political transition in the country.

"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

Humanitarian assistance has made a difference and averted catastrophe so far. Yet, the situation remains incredibly fragile, and risk of livelihood collapse is high. Neglecting support to agriculture could lead to catastrophic levels of food insecurity, wider economic collapse and massive displacement. Much more assistance is needed to keep agriculture going in 2022.

Funding needs. In 2022, FAO requires USD 197 million to assist 9 million people in rural Afghanistan in order to help the Afghan people free themselves from acute hunger, feed themselves and transition to self-reliance smoothly.

The current funding gap as of 15 March 2022 is USD 110 million.

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

Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan

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.