Decades of war, civil unrest and natural disasters have taken a huge toll on Afghanistan. Despite recent progress, millions of Afghans still live in severe poverty, with a crumbling infrastructure and a landscape suffering from environmental damage.
Around 39 percent of Afghans live below the poverty line, with huge differences in living standards between those living in cities and those in rural areas. The country has some of the world’s highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates, and many thousands of children die needlessly each year because they lack access to adequate food and nutrition. Around 41 percent of Afghan children under the age of five are stunted, with low height for their age, while 10 percent are acutely malnourished.
Around 33 percent of Afghans are food insecure – around 9.3 million people – and some 3.4 million of them are severely food insecure. Unemployment is high and economic growth slow, with gender-based violence and access to healthcare and education adding further problems. What’s more, Afghanistan is prone to recurring natural disasters including flooding, earthquakes, avalanches, landslides and droughts, with such disasters affecting 250,000 people every year.
Physical security is a major concern, and insurgent activity and military operations continue to affect food security in some areas. Along with other issues such as illegal logging, uncontrolled grazing and deforestation, this undermines humanitarian efforts. Nearly 750,000 conflict-affected people required humanitarian food assistance in 2016.
WFP has been working in Afghanistan since 1963, helping to tackle the country’s nutritional, educational and environmental problems, and supporting vulnerable people to improve their livelihoods. Active in all 34 provinces, WFP has shifted its focus in recent years from emergency assistance to rehabilitation and recovery.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Afghanistan
School mealsThe school meals programme helps the government of Afghanistan to improve the gender gap, school enrolment rate and students’ attendance levels. In 2016, WFP gave more than 255,000 students a take-home ration of fortified vegetable oil as an incentive for their families to send them to school.
Emergency responseWFP assists returnees, internally displaced people, refugees and people affected by conflict, disasters or severe seasonal food insecurity. In 2016, WFP provided over 1.2 million people with emergency food assistance.
Food for trainingTo improve employment opportunities in urban areas, WFP provides food insecure people, and especially women and unemployed young men, with training to acquire new, marketable skills and improve literacy so they can earn a better living. Training areas include handicraft making, carpentry, plumbing and others.
Disaster risk reductionUnder its disaster risk reduction activities, WFP continues to help build resilience at the community level by supporting the construction or rehabilitation of key infrastructure, including roads, canals, flood protection walls and terracing. In 2016, more than 500,000 people received WFP food assistance through its assets creation activities.
NutritionWFP fights undernutrition in vulnerable children under 5, pregnant women and new mothers, helping to prevent the lifelong consequences of poor nutrition in the critical early years of life. In 2015, WFP reached over 814,000 vulnerable women and children with take-home food baskets, essential micronutrient tablets and specialized nutritious food.
Purchase for ProgressWFP helps local farmers boost production and processing capacities, as well as access to markets. WFP also works with the Ministry of Health to establish food quality and safety standards and supports national flour fortification programmes, including by providing micronutrients for private millers and training to fortify flour for commercial sale.