Afghanistan: World Food Programme calls for funds as children face ‘hunger and starvation’
Story | 3 December 2021
Decades of complex and protracted conflicts, combined with a changing climate, gender inequalities, rapid urbanization,underemployment and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic pose considerable challenges in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 2 on Zero Hunger and improved nutrition.
Over half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, and food insecurity is on the rise, largely due to conflict and insecurity cutting off whole communities from livelihood opportunities. 22.8 million people are identified as acutely food insecure, including hundreds of thousands who have been displaced by conflict since the beginning of the year.
Undernutrition is of particular concern in women, children, displaced people, returnees, households headed by women, people with disabilities and the poor. Despite progress in recent years, undernutrition rates are now increasing and 2 million children are malnourished.
Every year, some 250,000 people on average are affected by a wide range of environmental disasters including floods, droughts, avalanches, landslides and earthquakes. The impact of disasters and dependency on water from rain or snowmelt severely limit the productivity of the agricultural sector, which provides a source of income for 44 percent of the population.
Present in Afghanistan since 1963, the World Food Programme (WFP) works with partners to ensure that, in line with humanitarian principles, assistance reaches conflict- and disaster-affected populations wherever they are. WFP also supports transformative actions that strengthen the resilience and livelihoods of individuals and communities – with a special focus on women – and support local economies, thus contributing to the long-term development and stability of the country.
In the context of ongoing conflict and frequent natural disasters, WFP provides unconditional, fortified and nutritionally-balanced food assistance to vulnerable groups including people displaced by conflict, those affected by disasters, refugees, returnees from neighboring countries, and people affected by seasonal food insecurity.
WFP works together with communities to strengthen their ability to reduce the risk of disasters and adapt to climate change, while also creating employment opportunities both in urban and rural areas. This includes constructing or rehabilitating roads, canals, flood protection walls and reforestation, as well as vocational training.
WFP provides nutritional support tailored according to age, gender and vulnerability. Since the beginning of 2021, WFP has reached 6.4 million people with food and nutrition assistance, including 470,000 internally displaced people and one million children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. In close partnership with UNICEF and WHO, WFP works to address lifelong consequences of poor nutrition for children such as stunting, and also addresses emergency situations where malnutrition rates may quickly rise.
WFP is working with the Government and commercial partners to provide people throughout the country with access to nutritious food at affordable prices by supporting smallholder farmers, building local milling and fortification capacity, and strengthening value chains and food safety measures.
WFP supports government officials and partners in establishing Zero Hunger as a development priority and enhancing the coherence of their Zero Hunger policy through capacity strengthening, advocacy, public awareness and research, including the creation of Food Security and Nutrition committees at the province level to promote local ownership.
To enhance the ability of the Government and the broader humanitarian and development community to respond to affected populations’ needs, WFP assists with the provision of assistance in beneficiary management, supply chain, information and communication technology, and facilities and information management.
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