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Favorable spring rainfall and near normal temperatures has improved the pasture condition

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Afghanistan
  • August 2019
Favorable spring rainfall and near normal temperatures has improved the pasture condition

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected outlook through January 2020
  • Key Messages
    • Following the near average 2019 wheat harvest, which is still ongoing in higher elevated areas, many households across the country are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as they are accessing own foods. In addition, second season maize and rice harvests are average, and above average in areas along rivers. However, as the lean season approaches in November/December and many households have below-average incomes and are still recovering from the 2018 drought, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely to emerge in many areas of the country.

    • As per UNHCR and IOM, an estimated 4,700 documented and 305,000 undocumented people returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran in 2019. As in the previous years, many returnees are returning with minimal assets and are in need of humanitarian assistance upon arrival as well as income-earning opportunities to begin establishing new livelihoods. Many will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they have difficulty engaging in normal livelihood options.

    • As of August 4th, more than 223,500 people had fled their homes due to conflict within Afghanistan since the beginning of the year with 30 out of 34 provinces recording some level of displacement. 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.

    Current Situation

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) estimate total 2019 domestic wheat production to be 5,2 MMT, leaving an estimated import requirement of 1,25 MMT to meet domestic demand. The estimated import requirement is near average and will be fulfilled through typical wheat and wheat flour imports from Kazakhstan and Pakistan. River water levels are higher than normal this year, facilitating second season production. Most second-season crops are progressing favorably throughout the country, including maize and rice. However, cotton has been adversely affected by pests in parts of northern Afghanistan, particularly in parts of Balkh Province. Melon and watermelon crops are developing well and the harvest has started in some areas and will continue through September. Although second-season and vegetable production in eastern and western provinces is average to above-average, prices have remained largely stable, leading to slightly above average incomes for producers. Rangeland conditions and water availability for livestock are improving livestock body conditions and livestock production in most parts of the country. However, as the result of the 2018 drought, herd sizes continue to be below average.

    In July 2019, the average wheat price was 5.8 percent higher than compared to the same time last year (July 2018) and only slightly higher than the five-year average, by about 3.0 percent. The Terms of Trade (ToT) between casual labor and wheat flour, compared to the same month one year ago, slightly deteriorated by 6.8 percent and negligibly deteriorated by 1.8 percent compared to the five-year average. This was the result of slightly higher than normal livestock prices due to increased demand leading up to Eid Qurban. At this time, better-off households typically buy large quantities of livestock.

    The security situation remains problematic through mid-2019 in most regions with a similar number of people displaced in 2019 through late August as for the sample time period in 2018. 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 place of origin, due to various factors including limited access to labor opportunities, safe areas for grazing livestock and markets. The ongoing conflicts are limiting humanitarian access and disrupting normal labor migration patterns, particularly in southern, eastern, northern and northeastern provinces. Humanitarian food assistance continues across the country to IDPs and households affected by flooding, as the security situation allows.

    In addition to food from own harvests, poor households are currently relying on income earned from agricultural and non-agricultural labor, as well as remittances from household members abroad or in other areas within Afghanistan; however, these income sources are mostly below average. As a result, most poor households are estimated to be facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In almost all areas of the country there are households who have not fully recovered from the major losses of livelihood assets due to last year’s drought and continued conflict. Some of these households are starting to rebuild their livelihoods; however, despite the above-average harvest these households still have depleted livestock herds and few assets. Many of these households are currently facing, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes with many households in Badghis still trying to recover and having difficulty meeting their minimum food needs.

    Updated Assumptions

    Most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for Afghanistan June 2019 to January 2020 Food Security Outlook remain unchanged except for the following:

    • The most likely El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phase through January 2020 is neutral. As a result, precipitation during the first months of the 2019/2020 wet season from October through December 2019 is likely to be average.
    • The rate of migration to Iran is expected to decrease as more households focus on agriculture activities within Afghanistan, further impacting labor opportunities.

    Projected outlook through January 2020

    Many poor households are expected to forego some basic non-food needs to meet food consumption requirements and most areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least October. Households who rely heavily on casual labor income will likely have reduced income, 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. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue in displaced households, undocumented returnees, and areas of Badghis province, which was significantly affected by last year’s drought and conflict.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase2) outcomes are expected to be widespread from October 2019 to January 2020 as many households are still recovering from the 2018 drought. Many households are expected to deplete their food stocks prior to winter especially in the higher elevated areas and are likely to rely on markets with limited incomes and access due to snow.


    Figure 1


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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