Humanitarianresponse Logo

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan (2018-2021) - June 2020 Revision

COVID-19 and the Afghanistan Response HRP Revision – June 2020

After 40 years of war, annual natural disasters and persistent poverty, the people of Afghanistan have been dealt another deadly blow from COVID-19. Less than six months since the virus’ emergence, its humanitarian consequences are now affecting every aspect of life and threatening the survival and well-being of the most vulnerable by creating new needs and exacerbating existing ones. The virus has also reshaped the humanitarian operating environment in Afghanistan, demanding a deeper and wider response from aid agencies, using flexible new approaches to expand reach and ensure life-saving support is not interrupted. With this in mind, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and the Inter-Cluster Coordination Team (ICCT) have revised the multi-year HRP with 14 million people now estimated to be in humanitarian need and a planned reach of 11.1 million people. For this work, the humanitarian community requires US$1.1 billion. Projections of key population groups (e.g returnees, people affected by natural disaster) have been adjusted to reflected new ground realities.

This HRP revision comes at a time when the country’s fragile health system, under extreme stress even before the pandemic, is straining to find the resources necessary to prevent, contain, and treat the virus. While acknowledging the initial funding already released by generous donors and through global pooled funds, health partners are operating in an environment where approximately one-third of the population (mostly those living in hard-to-reach areas) do not have access to a functional health centre within two hours of their home. These access gaps are a critical impediment to the fight against COVID-19, as well as people’s general well-being and survival from other threats. Seventy nine per cent of adults and 17 per cent of children are estimated to live with some form of disability. Constant exposure to high-stress, conflict situations, movement restrictions and financial pressure, as well as repeated loss of friends and family members from sickness and war, are also taking their toll on the mental health of people living in Afghanistan. Hunger and malnutrition remain at dangerously high levels despite the passing of the drought with 12.4 million people forecast to be in crisis or emergency food insecurity between June and November of 2020. 

People’s living conditions, emotional and physical reserves, and their overall resilience in the face of recurrent shocks have been eroded by decades of hardship. Inability to access basic services is a key consequence of the ongoing crisis and is a product of a range of factors including conflict, insecurity and fear, poverty and under-investment in critical infrastructure and human resources. The country is also facing a protection crisis where people’s rights to safety, security and well-being are regularly threatened not only by the conflict, but also by the economic implications of COVID-19. Afghanistan carries the terrible burden of being the world’s deadliest conflict for children and now the virus is presenting safety risks for women both in terms of poor access to treatment and a surge of gender-based violence. Conflict and displacement have resulted in internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable people resorting to severe negative coping mechanisms such as early/forced marriages, child labour and begging – a situation that is only exacerbated by COVID-19. Women and girls are deprived of basic rights, particularly education. Afghanistan is littered with landmines and other explosive hazards (new and old), presenting daily risks to civilians, particularly the higher than normal numbers of returnees. Insecure housing, land and property rights are a key source of vulnerability for many people in Afghanistan, particularly IDPs, returnees and women. The risk of eviction is especially real for both returnees and those unable to pay their rent because of COVID-19. 

This mid-year revision builds on efforts initiated by the Government, the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organisation and an initial Multi-Sector Humanitarian Country Plan (March-June). The revisions recognise the likely long-term nature of the pandemic, the need to continue to respond to pre-existing and emerging non-COVID priorities simultaneously, and the opportunity to work more closely with development actors to keep additional vulnerable people from falling into acute humanitarian need. Renewed engagement with development partners is critical to providing a response that promotes not just survival but recovery.   

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
08 Jun 2020
Document type: 
Strategic Response Plan
Location(s): 
Afghanistan
Theme(s): 
Needs Assessment
Strategic Planning
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination