Families look towards the future after the devastation of drought
Contribution from WFP
“I am returning to my village because we had a lot of rain this year,” said Abdul from Ab Kamari district in Badghis Province. “WFP helped us when we arrived in Qala-e-Naw and had nothing, but I am now hopeful that the harvest will be good this year.” Abdul and his family of seven are among the thousands of families driven from their homes by drought and conflict who arrived in Qala-e-Naw in Badghis Province, and Hirat City, in Hirat Province in the first half of 2018.
In 2018, WFP assisted 2.7 million drought-affected people with 106,000 metric tons of food and $14 million in cash transfers to cover food needs for six months or longer in the majority of cases. Families received fortified wheat flour, vegetable oil, iodized salt, split peas and specialized nutritious food for young children to prevent moderate acute malnutrition. WFP’s digital registration and benefits transfer system, SCOPE, enabled WFP to account for the size of displaced families.
The Government of Afghanistan provided WFP with a contribution of 60,000 metric tons of wheat from its Strategic Grain Reserve to help meet the needs. Three international donors provided funding for the wheat to be milled, fortified and transported to families in need. These innovative partnerships resulted in cost savings that allowed WFP to procure urgently needed food commodities and expedite the response at a critical time given the scale of the drought.
Monitoring the next harvest
Assistance has continued into 2019, with WFP supporting 1.9 million drought-affected people in the first three months of the year. In April 2019, WFP began scaling down its drought assistance, as spring rains and mountain snowmelt revived agricultural lands across the country.
Many people have high hopes for the next harvest season in July and August. “In recent weeks, we have seen many people return home voluntarily from sites around Qala-e-Naw, but there are still many more who need further support,” said Qadir Assemy, head of WFP’s area office in Hirat.
To gain a better understanding of the situation, the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock the National Statistics and Information Authority, with financial support from WFP, FAO, UNDP, are conducting a Seasonal Food Security Assessment, similar to the Emergency Food Security Assessment that guided the humanitarian community’s response to the drought.
Transitioning to more durable solutions
As part of the One UN initiative in Afghanistan, WFP and cluster partners are collaborating to transition from humanitarian emergency assistance to longer-term activities to strengthen livelihoods such as connecting farmers with local milling companies and markets, building water catchments for 51,000 people, constructing irrigation dams to support more than 600 hectares of fields, and supporting 300 women to raise silkworms. Furthermore, the Government, the World Bank, WFP and the FAO are developing a shock-responsive social safety net in drought-affected provinces to ensure early warning, financing and action.
“Our asset creation, vocational skills training and seasonal support activities, as well as our engagement with the Government, are all intended to bridge the gap between humanitarian assistance and more sustainable solutions so people can better manage future shocks,” explained Zlatan Milisic, WFP’s Country Director in Afghanistan. “Despite conflict, access, security and environmental challenges, WFP will continue to reach people in need of food assistance across the country and work with them to provide a way forward.”