WFP has been working continuously in Afghanistan since 1963, and is active in all 34 provinces. In recent years, WFP’s focus has shifted from emergency assistance to rehabilitation and recovery.
WFP fed more than 6.5 million people in 2010, primarily in remote, food-insecure rural areas. WFP’s food assistance targets poor and vulnerable families, schoolchildren, illiterate people, tuberculosis patients and their families, returning refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and disabled people – with an emphasis on vulnerable women and girls.
School Meals programmes aim to help the government rebuild the national education system. In 2010, WFP provided a daily snack of micronutrient-enriched biscuits or a hot meal to over a million children to alleviate short-term hunger and encourage school attendance. WFP also provided a take-home ration of vegetable oil to 600,000 girl students, as an incentive for their families to send them to school. This part of the food-for-education programme is aimed at closing the gender gap in Afghan classrooms in areas where female enrolment is low.
Food for training helps the poor acquire new marketable skills so they can earn a better living. In 2010, WFP provided about 140,000 vulnerable people – mostly women – with food rations to support their families while participants attended classes in literacy, handicraft production, carpentry, plumbing skills, reproductive health or childcare.
In 2010, WFP assisted more than 1.5 million people through Food-for-Work and Food-for-Assets programmes, which provide food to vulnerable Afghans as they build or repair community assets, including roads, bridges, reservoirs and irrigation systems. These projects are agreed upon in consultation with the government and local communities.
In 2010, WFP emergency food assistance supported over 1.8 million people affected by natural and man-made disasters. Food reached people affected by floods and landslides, as well as returning refugees and people displaced by conflict.
WFP’s nutrition programme in Afghanistan helps fight malnutrition among pregnant women, new mothers and children under the age of 5. This lifesaving food assistance helps women survive pregnancy in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality. Children receive a special nutritional paste made from peanuts, which helps prevent the life-long consequences of poor nutrition during those critical years of life. In 2011, WFP plans to feed some 55,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers and 62,000 children under the age of 5.
WFP has been promoting flour fortification in Afghanistan since 2004. Adding vitamins and minerals to flour helps reduce deficiencies in iron and other micronutrients, particularly important among women of child-bearing age. Eight mills around the country are now producing a total of 250 metric tons of fortified flour every day, on average.
Under a pilot Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, WFP is buying wheat directly from small-scale farmers for distribution elsewhere in the country, strengthening Afghan grain markets and small-scale producers' access to them. Through P4P, WFP has also begun partnering with Afghan factories to locally produce fortified biscuits that WFP purchases for use in its School Meals programme, and is exploring the production of other specialized foods.
Under a new voucher project, beneficiaries receive vouchers instead of food rations, allowing them to buy their choice of food from participating retailers and avoiding distortion of functioning markets. After a successful pilot phase in Kabul, this project was launched in Jalalabad in February 2011. WFP plans to expand it to other cities, aiming to support some 30,000 people in 2011.
WFP supports the national campaign against tuberculosis (TB) by providing family rations to patients as an incentive to complete their eight-month treatment course at clinics across the country. WFP is assisting more than 20,000 TB patients and their families every month.
The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provides safe and efficient air transport and cargo services for the humanitarian community around Afghanistan and to neighbouring countries. In 2010, UNHAS carried more than 28,400 passengers and 121 metric tons of light cargo. Staff from 261 agencies made use of the air service.