To Mitigate Drought and Food Security Risks in Afghanistan, UN OCHA Humanitarian Response Team Creates a Famine Mechanism

The Humanitarian Response Plan 2019 Update was published recently by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan Toby Lanzer and the Humanitarian Country Team.

An earlier humanitarian response report highlighted that in 2019, 6.3 Million Afghans will be in need of Humanitarian assistance. It has been pointed out that the top strategic objectives for 2019 will be saving lives ahead of highest need, reducing International Humanitarian Law violations, and giving timely response to people affected by sudden and slow onset crisis.

It has been noted that 4.5 million people are set to receive humanitarian assistance, but since there are 6.3 million who will be in need, ample funds will be required. The breakdown of groups in need is as follows: 0.5 million people are conflict affected, 0.9 million will be “on the move”, 3 million are going to be natural disaster affected and 1.3 will have no access to basic services.

An estimated 355,000 civilians returned to Afghanistan from Iran in the first 6 months of 2018.

For emergency shelter and non-food item needs, it has been assured that the following things will be prioritized: firstly, vulnerable families directly impacted by new emergencies. Secondly, improvement of existing shelters particularly for IDPs, returnees and newly displaced families. Thirdly, a good winterisation response and finally, response to drought displacement.

An alarming chart was reported for food security and agriculture. While it has been estimated that 4.9 people in Afghanistan will be in need of food and subsistence, 3.9 million (target) will be assisted which means a million are likely to fall out of the bracket of coverage. To cover the remaining ones, FSAC will target 3.9 million with food assistance and 1.8 million with livelihoods assistance.

Mr Toby Lanzer has informed that a Famine Action Mechanism which is a multi-stakeholder platform involving the government, a World Bank and civil society as well as key partners will be instituted to fulfil  food and water security needs in 2019.

Lanzer writes, “As many as 6.3 million people need humanitarian aid in 2019, including 4 million because of drought. Of these, 3.6 million people are experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity

– a 24 per cent increase on the same period of 2017. At the same time, Afghanistan is grappling with a conflict too often marked by suicide bombs, targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure and air strikes. As my colleagues and I have moved around the country it is hard not to be confronted by the visible signs of war: children without limbs or mothers blinded by shrapnel. Already one of the hardest countries for people to make ends meet, the prospects of doing so in Afghanistan when disabled are dim.”

The total financial requirement set out by the Humanitarian Country Team is $612 million.

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