Farmers and herders in Afghanistan are likely to face a second consecutive year of drought in 2022, creating a very real risk of famine unless large-scale support to protect livelihoods arrives very soon.
The Afghan people are facing widespread drought, the collapse of rural livelihoods, and far-ranging economic upheaval – this was the warning given by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 2021. The organization is providing critical life-saving assistance to farmers and herders while urging far greater and immediate support for agricultural production. Inaction could lead to rural displacement, says FAO.
In Afghanistan today at least 18.8 million people are facing acute food insecurity – in other words, they are unable to feed themselves on a daily basis. This number is projected to rise to 22.8 million by the end of 2021. FAO is supporting farmers and herders by providing seed, fertilizer, cash, and livelihood support in order to keep agricultural production going and avoid widespread livelihood collapse in many parts of the country.
A wheat-cultivation assistance package costing USD 157 enables a farm family to meet its cereal needs for a year. This is much less than the USD 1,080 needed to cover the minimum food requirements of an average family – something that few can afford to do right now.
Agriculture is the backbone of Afghan livelihoods and critical for Afghanistan’s economy. Around 70 percent of Afghans live in rural areas, and agriculture accounts for at least 25 percent of GDP, while an estimated 80 percent of all livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on agriculture.
FAO urgently needs USD 115 million in order to reach five million men, women, and children this winter and next spring. Of this amount, one out of every five dollars will directly support Afghan women. An additional USD 85 million will be required in 2022 to fund FAO’s humanitarian response to prevent livelihood collapse and widespread displacement.