Food Security Outlook Update

Unfavorable distribution of spring rainfall and conflict drive assistance needs in post-harvest period

August 2017

August - September 2017

October 2017 - January 2018

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
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 per UNHCR and IOM, an estimated 45,191 documented and 296,370 undocumented people returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran during 2017. As in 2016, many of these people are returning with minimal assets, and are in need of humanitarian assistance upon arrival as well as income-earning opportunities to begin to establish new livelihoods. Many will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity if humanitarian assistance funding shortfalls and difficulty in accessing income-earning opportunities persist.

  • As of August 15th, more than 202,100 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. Displacement affects all individuals differently with needs, vulnerabilities and protection risks evolving over time due to exhaustion of coping mechanisms and only basic emergency assistance provided following initial displacement.

  • 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

Prolonged periods of dryness and below-average cumulative precipitation in March and April damaged rainfed wheat in many areas during critical stages of crop development. Rainfed wheat was adversely affected in areas of northern, northeastern, northwestern, and southern regions, with reports indicating particularly significant impacts in Hirat, Zabul, Faryab, Badghis, and Sari Pul Provinces. Pasture and grazing areas have also been adversely affected. In Badghis Province, the lack of pastures has led some agropastoralists to sell their livestock early as body conditions deteriorated, driving down livestock prices.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) estimates total 2017 domestic wheat production to be 4,281,000 MT, leaving an estimated import requirement of 1,517,000 MT to meet domestic demand. The estimated import requirement is very similar to what has been typical in recent years, which is typically fulfilled through wheat and wheat flour imports from Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Regional availability and price trends varied considerably across Central Asia with the progression of the 2016/17 marketing year in August. However, as detailed in the Central Asia Regional Wheat Supply and Market Outlook, regional wheat deficits are expected to be filled through intra-regional trade. It is expected that Kazakhstan and Pakistan will maintain steady exports contributing to stable wheat and wheat flour markets in Afghanistan.

In July 2017, casual labor to wheat flour terms of trade (ToT) were slightly higher than the five-year average in most markets monitored, by 9.5 percent on average. These terms of trade improved significantly from July of the previous year, by 19.5 percent. The most notable increases from their respective averages were in Nili by (14.3 percent), Kandahar (13.6 percent), and Faizabad (6.8 percent).

Most second-season crops are progressing favorably throughout the country, including the major second-season crops of maize, rice, and cotton. However, area planted with rice and maize is below average, due primarily to the impact of ongoing conflicts.

Rice is typically used for household consumption while maize is dedicated to both human and animal use. In surplus-producing areas, rice and maize are supplied to regional markets, such as Kabul, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Hirat. Despite reduced area planted, prices and availability for maize and rice are likely to remain stable.

Cotton has been adversely affected by pests in parts of northern Afghanistan, particularly in parts of Balkh Province (Chamtal, Balkh, and Charbolak Districts). In southern Afghanistan, and particularly in Hilmand Province, farmers are replacing cotton with other cash crops due to low cotton prices in recent years, particularly in areas that rely on ground water for irrigating second season crops.

Although vegetable production in eastern and western provinces has improved in comparison to recent years, prices have remained largely stable, leading to increased income for producers. However, lack of adequate storage capacity remains a constraint, as some perishable vegetables are rotting before reaching markets. Melons and watermelons are important cash crops, particularly in the northern and northeastern regions. There are no reports of any major impact of pests or diseases this year for these crops in northern Afghanistan, and no major losses to the melon fly are expected. In southern Afghanistan, melon and watermelon crops are reported to be developing well. Harvests started in July in some areas and will continue through September. In northeastern and northern regions, there is an increase of melon and watermelon harvest from 10 to 15 percent compared to last year.

The security situation has remained problematic in 2017 in most regions of the country, although through August 27th the number of people displaced by conflict is less than for the same period in 2016. However, more than 200,000 people have been displaced. In addition to the disruption of normal livelihoods patterns through displacement, the adverse impact of conflict on food security outcomes is also felt by those who remain in their original homes in affected rural areas, due to various factors including limited access to labor opportunities, limited accessible and safe areas for grazing livestock, and uncertainty in the ability to fulfill future needs. Conflict also creates access problems for government agencies and humanitarian organizations, which often struggle to reach those in need. Lack of access to safe drinking water and poor sanitary conditions among IDPs is also increasing the number of malnourished individuals, particularly children.

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.

Updated assumptions

Most assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s food security outlook for June 2017 through January 2018 remain unchanged. However, the following assumption has been added:

  • With expectations for El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions to remain neutral, precipitation during the first months of the 2017/2018 wet season from October through December 2017 is likely to be near-average. However, there is a wide range of possible outcomes during this part of the wet season, which has relatively lower precipitation totals, with cumulative precipitation outcomes highly dependent on regional storm patterns.

Projected outlook through January 2018

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 slightly greater than last year. In other parts of the country, harvests of second-season crops are expected to be somewhat smaller than last year due to reduced area planted, but will give households a seasonal source of additional food and income from September to November.

The 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) after October. 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.

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. 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 2018. A high prevalence of acute malnutrition is likely to persist in many IDP settlements.

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 earned during the period of high labor demand and attempt to prepare for the winter and lean season. In the absence of assistance, food security outcomes for these households will likely deteriorate until the spring.

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 28 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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