Afghanistan: WFP Delivers Critical Food Assistance To Drought Victims In The North
Published on 24 April 2012

Beneficiaries of WFP general food distribution prepare their rations for transport. Photo: WFP/Sven Thelin

Through an emergency humanitarian assistance operation, WFP is addressing food shortages affecting drought-affected communities in 14 northern provinces of Afghanistan. In Jawzjan province, WFP has worked with the local Community Development Council to identify those who most required assistance, and recently distributed food for 175 families in one district.

Jawzhan province sits in rural northern Afghanistan, on the border of Turkmenistan and in close proximity to neighbouring Uzbekistan. This is a land full of communities for whom subsistence agriculture remains the most important source of food. In order to produce enough food each year, the farmers there rely heavily on sufficient precipitation during the rainy season, which typically lasts from November to April. The 2010 to 2011 rainy season was exceptionally poor and Afghanistan experienced one of its worst droughts in the past decade.

Subsistence farmers in Jawzjan are among the most vulnerable to food shortages. WFP is working with a local Community Development Council, one of thousands found across the country comprised of voluntary leaders elected to represent the community's needs. WFP identifies those who most require assistance through general food distributions. In the first phase of WFP’s emergency response, drought victims are issued rations of wheat, which has been identified as the most important food commodity for households in the area.

The winter of 2011 to 2012 dumped a huge amount of snow on Afghanistan, and northern areas saw plentyof precipitation, but the normal harvest period is not until between May and August. Muhamed Tair knows how difficult the situation still is in the villages located in Khwaja Du Koh, a district in the Jawzjan province. He is a member of the local Community Development Council which is working with WFP to organize a food distribution for 175 families who are in need of humanitarian assistance. “The situation remains grave”, he says. “Many villagers have planted their seeds and are hoping for a good new harvest in June. Until then, food assistance will have to be provided.”

Gorban and a friend happily sitting on large bags of wheat

Wheat ration for three months.
Photo WFP/Sven Thelin

Gorban is a farmer who lives in the village of Shahrarak Bazar, also in Jawzjan, with his wife and five children. He remembers that last year’s harvest lasted only about two months. “I tried to find work as a labourer but because so many others were in a similar position, I rarely found work which paid. I ended up borrowing money from a rich neighbour to feed my family.”

Gorban is visibly happy after receiving a three-month ration of wheat. “Tonight, my wife will bake good tandoor bread!”  

WFP’s emergency operation helps respond to the food needs of drought victims in 14 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. From the start of the operation in December 2011 through the first quarter of 2012, food assistance through WFP’s general food distribution and voucher programme has reached more than one million people in 10 provinces. That is roughly 22,600 metric tons of food dispatched to those in need.

WFP Offices
About the author

David Matern

Head of Donor Relations and Reports Unit

David Matern works as the Senior Donor Relations Officer for the WFP Headquarters based in Rome.