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Afghanistan: ICCT Real-Time Response Overview


Forty years of war, recurrent natural disasters, chronic poverty, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic have devastated the people of Afghanistan. The recent upheaval has only exacerbated needs and further complicated an extremely challenging operational context.

Even prior to the events of 15 August, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world. By the mid-year mark, nearly half of the population – some 18.4 million people – were already in need of humanitarian and protection assistance in 2021. Protection and safety risks to civilians, particularly women, children and people with a disability, were also reaching record highs.

Humanitarians urge the de facto authorities to deliver on their promises to protect the rights of all Afghan citizens — including women, children, minority communities, former government employees. This includes ensuring freedom of movement for women to work and to enjoy their basic rights — and for girls to have effective access to all levels of education. Additionally, humanitarians are concerned about reports of forced evictions of minority communities. The de facto authorities are urged to respect the housing, land and property rights of all Afghans and the tenure documentation that they hold, including those residing on land of the former government.

The country is currently facing the second drought in four years and the worst of its kind in 27 years. The recently updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis shows the food security situation has further deteriorated with worrying implications for the winter lean season ahead. An estimated 22.8 million people, or 55 per cent of the population, are expected to be in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 3+) between November 2021 and March 2022, a nearly 35 per cent increase from the same season last year (16.9m). No provinces have been included under IPC 1 and 2 during the projected period till March. Some 9 million people projected to be in IPC 4 – the highest number in the world.

In rural areas, this is largely driven by the drought. Assessments show that even after harvest, 57 per cent of households do not have food reserves that would last for 3 months. In urban areas, income loss (driven by economic shocks) has contributed to the rapid deterioration in food insecurity. 10 out of 11 most densely populated urban areas are anticipated to be in IPC 4. Sharp drops in income, surging food and other commodity prices, growing unemployment and severed remittances are expected to contribute to the deterioration of food security. No population group had a net positive income in 2021. Assessments show that more households have higher than average debt this year. This is increasingly concerning as food basket costs are steadily rising, constituting more than 82 per cent of the average HH income. While markets continue to function, prices for key commodities remain well above pre-pandemic levels and the purchasing power of casual labourers and pastoralists remains significantly reduced. It is anticipated that current political uncertainty, devaluation of the Afghan currency, import challenges and cash availability may lead to further inflationary impacts. 

The recent leadership transitions in the country and unfolding implications on basic services, financial systems and markets has led to a further deterioration of the situation for vulnerable people. While the full impact of recent events will take more time to manifest, aid organisations have already witnessed a dangerous deepening of humanitarian need amongst a greater number of people.

Humanitarians in Afghanistan are in a race against time to deliver life-saving aid to crisis-affected people and preposition supplies ahead of winter. Humanitarian partners have reached close to 10.3 million people with assistance across the country during the third quarter of the year.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Organization for Migration
United Nations Children's Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
World Health Organization
Original Publication Date: 
03 Nov 2021
Document type: 
Situation Report