13 million people in Afghanistan lack food as drought crisis bites: Report

Kabul: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has said that urgent action is needed to avert a deepening crisis in Afghanistan as one-third of the country’s population is surviving without adequate food due to a worsening drought crisis.

The drought and food crisis is one of the worst suffered in Afghanistan in recent decades, as 13.1 million people are grappling with food shortages according to the latest food insecurity analysis, IFRC said in a press release on Tuesday.

The report pointed out that this acute food security crisis compounds social and economic hardships already faced by millions of people in Afghanistan due to the COVID-19 pandemic and years of conflict.

“We are deeply concerned about worsening and severe water shortages in many areas, depleted food crops and crippled economic activity, such as decimated local markets and basic incomes,” said Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, Dr Nilab Mobarez.

“In the past month, Afghan Red Crescent volunteers and response teams have urgently ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for thousands of drought-affected families across the parched provinces of Badghis, Baghlan and Faryab,” Mobarez added.

The IFRC has issued an emergency appeal seeking 7.5 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver cash grants to buy food supplies and restore livelihoods and crops for 210,000 people in ten of the provinces worst affected by food insecurity and drought.

Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said, “This is one of the worst ever droughts in Afghanistan and millions of people are barely surviving. People are walking long distances, as drinking water is running out and crops are failing.”

“We have grave fears for more than 18 million people who will need humanitarian support in Afghanistan this year due to this drought-driven food crisis piled on top of the debilitating social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and the long-running conflict,” Mghendi added.