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Presence Country
Food Security Outlook Update

Conflict and weakened purchasing power drive assistance needs in post-harvest period

August 2016

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • As of August 21st, more than 220,000 people had fled their homes due to conflict within Afghanistan since the beginning of the year, with displacements occurring in 30 of 34 provinces. Many of the displaced are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as normal sources of food and income are disrupted. 

  • More than 100,000 Afghanistan nationals have been forcibly repatriated from Pakistan in August. Most of these returnees have not received assistance from government or humanitarian partners. In the absence of assistance, returnees are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the outlook period.

  • In July 2016, wheat flour to casual labor terms of trade (ToT) was below the five-year average in most markets monitored, although similar to last year. The most notable declines from their respective averages were in Faizabad (-25.9 percent), Kandahar (-17.8 percent), Maimana (-17.7 percent), Jalalabad (-15.7 percent), and Mazar-i-Sharif (-12.8 percent). In Nili, the reference market in the central highlands, this ToT has remained low at 10 KG wheat flour/day. The wheat flour to sheep ToT has declined in Nili, to 21.6 percent below the five-year average.

  • The anomalously cold sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the eastern equatorial Pacific, which could reach the La Niña threshold in the coming months, increase the risk of below-average precipitation in Afghanistan during the peak of the upcoming wet season in the first months of 2017. However, there remains a large spread of possible seasonal outcomes due to natural weather variability over the region and uncertainty regarding the evolution of SST anomalies.

  • Although the number of people facing acute food insecurity has decreased seasonally in recent months with main season harvests beginning in May/June and related labor opportunities, current populations in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) remain and require urgent humanitarian assistance to minimize food consumption gaps, treat cases of acute malnutrition, and protect livelihoods.

Current situation

Food security outcomes have improved seasonally in much of the country, with near-average main season wheat harvests recently collected in most areas. In some higher-elevation areas where harvests are later in the year, food security outcomes have continued to worsen due to a combination of reduced labor opportunities in recent years and the impact of increasing conflict on livelihoods in some areas.

Area planted with rice and maize during the second season is below average, due primarily to the impact of ongoing conflicts. Although vegetable production in eastern and western provinces has improved in comparison to recent years, prices have not fallen significantly, leading to increased income for producers. However, lack of adequate storage capacity remains a constraint, as some perishable vegetables are rotting before reaching markets. Almond, melon, and watermelon production has increased in northern and northeastern regions.     

Rangeland conditions and water availability for livestock are favorable and mostly similar to last year in eastern, northern, northeastern, and central regions. Livestock body conditions and production of livestock products are near average in most parts of the country. However, the terms of trade for wheat flour to sheep varies in markets monitored as compared to the five-year average (See Table). In northern, northeastern, and central regions, livestock body conditions improved due to good rains in April and May that increased pasture and water resources. Livestock prices are expected to increase in early September due to demand leading up to Eid Qurban, during which better-off households typically slaughter an animal.

In July 2016, wheat flour to casual labor terms of trade (ToT) was below the five-year average in most markets monitored, although similar to last year. The most notable declines from their respective averages were in Faizabad (-25.9 percent), Kandahar (-17.8 percent), Maimana (-17.7 percent), Jalalabad (-15.7 percent), and Mazar-i-Sharif (-12.8 percent). In many conflict-affected areas, demand for agricultural labor is atypically low, and daily wage rates in the sector are below normal for this time of year.

Conflict between armed non-state actors (ANSAs) and government forces, as well as ANSA attacks on civilians, have continued to increase throughout much of the country. The ongoing conflicts are limiting humanitarian access and disrupting normal labor migration patterns, particularly in Hilmand Province.

The government of Pakistan has announced that it will continue to forcibly repatriate Afghanistan nationals living in the country, many of whom have been there for many years. Estimates indicate that more than 100,000 people were obliged to move to Afghanistan in August 2016. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, many of these households are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with living conditions and food security outcomes deteriorating with the onset of winter.

Updated assumptions

The assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for June 2016 to January 2017 remain unchanged. 

Projected outlook through January 2017

  • Wheat has not yet been harvested in some higher elevation areas, including much of Badakhshan, Bamyan, and Daykundi Provinces, as well as parts of Ghor Province, Behsud District in Wardak Province and Kohistanat District in Sari Pul Province. Reports indicate that crops continue to develop normally in these areas. Harvest prospects in different parts of the country range from similar to last year to slightly better.
  • Across the country, second-season crops such as rice, maize, and some vegetables are performing normally. With these likely near-average harvests, households will receive additional food and income from September to November.
  • Newly displaced households who receive food assistance will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), but only due to external assistance through at least January. However, those who will not be able to receive assistance due to civil insecurity are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the outlook period, and will not experience seasonal improvements in food and income sources until around May 2017. High prevalence of acute malnutrition continues to persist in many IDP settlements. Most IDPs are dependent on markets to access food, but have limited income-earning opportunities and compete with host communities for casual labor opportunities. IDPs reported spending a high percentage of their total expenditure on basic food needs. Food consumption is often inadequate. Additionally, poor access to health services and poor sanitation practices and conditions further exacerbate nutritional outcomes.
  • Many displaced households in Paktika and Khost Provinces will eventually receive food and non-food assistance from the local communities and humanitarian organizations. Displaced households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) and likely to remain so, but only due to expected humanitarian assistance and assistance from the host community between now and December.
  • Households who have lost their primary crop, primarily due to conflict and displacement, are likely to reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by October, as they exhaust income and food from their own coping strategies. In the absence of assistance, food security outcomes for these households will likely deteriorate until the spring.
  • A majority of households will likely meet their food and essential non-food needs following the near-average wheat harvest, the normal harvest of second-season crops, and income from cash crops and labor. However, many poor households will forego some basic non-food needs to meet food consumption requirements, and most areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the outlook period. Households who rely heavily on casual labor income will likely have reduced income compared to recent years. This is largely due to a reduction in foreign and domestic investment and spending, especially in the construction industry, as well as a reduction in trade activities, which typically employ a large number of casual laborers in markets and in transporting goods.
  • FEWS NET analysis indicates that current acute food security outcomes are likely similar to those anticipated in the June 2016 – January 2017 Food Security Outlook. However, an analysis of recent data from the Seasonal Food Security Assessment (SFSA), as well as continuing population displacement due to conflict, suggest that outcomes during the October 2016 – January 2017 period are likely to be worse than previously estimated.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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