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Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan (2018-2021) - 2021 Revision

The 2021 update to the Afghanistan multi-year HRP (2018-2021) requests US$1.3 billion to reach 15.7 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian support due to the consequences of decades of conflict, recurrent natural disasters, lack of recovery from past crises and the added health and socio-economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in planned reach is largely driven by the sharp increase in the number of people in acute food insecurity that require support and ongoing health needs as a result of COVID-19. 

The response strategy in 2021 follows the revised scope of humanitarian action agreed at the end of 2019, allowing for the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance to those immediately affected by shocks as well as those who are vulnerable due to past crises whose needs remain acute. With COVID-19 exposing deep economic challenges for those in informal employment, the 2021 response will have a more intense focus on urban areas compared to past years. A hybrid approach is employed in this multi-year HRP using most elements of the enhanced planning approach but combining these with the core features of the original plan. The response will aim to address the needs of people facing acute vulnerabilities such as extreme household debt; mental and physical disability; the use of dangerous negative coping strategies; returnees; refugees; and those living in households headed by women, children or the elderly, whose positions in society put them at a disadvantage. 

COVID-19 responses have been mainstreamed through the overall response, along with protection considerations. Most of the critical recovery or system-strengthening activities that were paused or scaled-down in 2020 will be resumed in 2021. In 2020, humanitarian partners demonstrated their capacity to rapidly scale-up response and adopt a series of flexible needs assessment and response delivery approaches – through mobile teams and more cash-based assistance – and these will mostly continue in 2021 due to the ongoing threat from the pandemic. 162 organisations who delivered services in 99 per cent of districts across the country in 2020,  are primed to deliver a well-coordinated life-saving response in the most difficult of circumstances in 2021. Having recently assessed their capacity, a significant number of these organisations have indicated they have the scope to further expand their operations with added funding. 

The response will also continue to emphasise the importance of expanding AAP work, reinforcing PSEA, preventing and responding to GBV and strengthening gender, mental health and disability inclusion. Humanitarian systems will be strengthened through dedicated technical working groups on these and other themes. To deepen access in all areas of the country and enable humanitarian organisations to deliver meaningful and needs-based response, harmonised operation and negotiation approaches will be guided by the JOPs, with support from the HAG. The response is designed according to an increasingly challenging security outlook as the peace talks continue, parties attempt to strengthen negotiating positions and international military forces drawdown.

Similar to 2020, enhanced collaboration will be forged with development actors in both common needs analysis as well as identifying common outcomes, where possible, to ensure people get the right assistance at the right time and are supported on the road to recovery. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO and ILO, as well as OCHA and the ICCT have again worked together to draw common planning parameters to identify people with chronic needs who will require some form of social assistance to weather the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. In 2021, a rigorous and targeted approach was employed to reflect the multiple layers of vulnerability, poverty, and food insecurity experienced by households in Afghanistan. Based on this analysis, some 76 per cent of the population or 30.5 million people (in stress, crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity – Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) phases 2+ – are in need of some form of social assistance to avoid falling into more acute state of need, threatening their wellbeing. This work is designed to demonstrate the reality that humanitarian aid is just one part of a broader package of assistance that is required from the Government and development actors to support the country’s most vulnerable.  See page 19 for more details on the alignment between humanitarian and development planning processes.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
09 Jan 2021
Document type: 
Strategic Response Plan
Location(s): 
Afghanistan
Theme(s): 
Needs Assessment
Strategic Planning
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination