At the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network we are deeply concerned with the news from Afghanistan and the worrying reports of severe hunger crisis due to extreme drought.
Even before the Taliban advancement, Afghanistan had one of the world’s highest rates of stunting in children under-5 years old; 40.9% are stunted and 9.5% are wasted. In Afghanistan today, 14.7 million people are estimated to be living in acute food insecurity[i], with an estimated 2 million children under the age of 5 affected by acute malnutrition[ii].
The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these figures due to closed borders and rising food prices. Afghanistan is largely dependent on its neighbours for the basic supplies and imports around 4.5 million metric tons of wheat every year. Due to the closure of borders and difficulties in transit with Pakistan, Iran, and other neighbouring countries in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the normal flow of food imports changed.
The combination of these factors, along with the extremely high levels of displacement we are now seeing, could push Afghanistan into an extreme hunger crisis. The international community must act fast and ensure that those struggling in Afghanistan are supported before thousands die due to severe malnutrition.
[ii] OCHA – Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan, 2020