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A near normal second harvest is underway

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Afghanistan
  • September 2013
A near normal second harvest is underway

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • In general, acute food insecurity is anticipated to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most parts of the country as first and second harvests were normal to above normal in terms of volume, increasing food available as household stocks and on markets. These harvests also provided labor opportunities for landless households and other households that depend on income from labor.

    • Despite reductions in incomes compared to normal and in the supply of own produced food, the West Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone’s food security from September to December is expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as poor households are likely to meet their minimal food requirement through some market purchases and external, emergency assistance.

    • The newly displaced Internal Displaced Persons’ (IDPs’) food security from September to December are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as the availability of many income-earning opportunities seasonally decline from now to December. IDPs remain reliant on external assistance to meet their food needs.

    Current Situation
    • Following the above normal 2013 wheat harvest from May to June in most areas, the second harvest, which consists primarily of maize, cotton, and rice, started in late August and is now well underway. Early indications are that this harvest has so far been normal in terms of volume with the exception of central Khost Province where very heavy rain resulted in a below average maize harvest. In most areas, both harvests have increased food availability both at household and market levels, offered labor opportunities to landless households and labor-dependent households, and maintained wheat grain prices in wheat surplus-producing areas close to or slightly below their five-year averages. The national wheat harvest was above average in terms of volume, which increased supply both at the market and household levels.
    • In the higher elevations, the first crop harvest, which is primarily wheat, started in August and is still in progress. The harvest is reported to be exceptionally low so far in terms of volume in the West-Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone.
    • Orchard harvests of grapes, pomegranates, and apples started in early September and are ongoing. They are generally reported to be normal to above normal in terms of volume so far. Sales are reported to be proceeding normally, and income from orchards is reported to be normal to above normal so far.
    • Heavy rains led to severe flooding in August in eastern and central-eastern Afghanistan. More than 1,400 households were affected. 68 people died, and 92 people were injured according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA). The affected households have received external assistance both from the government and from aid agencies. The assistance has included food, non-food items, and emergency shelter.
    • Access to drinking water has deteriorated seasonally all over the country as the water table drops and seasonal rivers run dry. Wells have been particularly dry and located at increasing distances from settlements in the West-Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone and in Nimroz Province. According to a Relief International report in August, expenditures on drinking water increased were up to four times above normal in Nimroz Province. Expenditures on water and time spent collecting water have significantly increased. In addition, water scarcity has also negatively impacted human and livestock health. Rates of diarrhea among humans have increased, and livestock disease and mortality increased from June to August.
    • Conflict is seasonally intensifying across much of the country. Attacks on aid workers have also increased. According to a report by UNOCHA, August witnessed 25 violence incidents against aid workers, which further hindered humanitarian access and interuprted essential services.
    • In August, one-year old, female sheep prices were above their five-year averages across all reference markets.
    • In August, casual labor wages were well above their five-year averages in all reference markets.
    • Current wheat grain prices are below their five-year averages in Jalalabad, Herat, Faizabad, Maimana, and Mazar. In structurally, wheat-deficit areas of the country including Nili and Kandahar, wheat prices are up to 19 percent higher than their five-year averages. 

    Updated Assumptions

    Most of the assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for July to December 2013 remain unchanged. However, one assumption has for the West-Central Highlands Agropastoral livelihood zone has been modified:

    • In July, it was assumed that some assistance in the western central highlands would continue only through September. Now that aid agencies and the Government of Afghanistan have made additional assistance plans, it is assumed that more recently planned assistance will continue, and that the planned and funded food distributions will be complete by the winter.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013
    • Food security outcomes from September to December are anticipated to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most parts of the country. Many households will have well above normal access to food through their own above average production and income from well above average labor wages, livestock sales, and sales of cash crops from the ongoing second harvest.
    • The West-Central Highland Agropastoral livelihood zone is likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from September to December as poor households are meeting their immediate, minimally adequate food needs through ongoing external assistance, very limited amounts of local production, and some labor income funding market purchases, primarily from migratory during the lowland harvest. The World Food Program (WFP) is in the process of providing mixed commodities of food to 8,000 households. The government has committed to distribute 2,700 metric tons (MT) of wheat grain from the strategic reserve. Another 6,000 MT wheat grain are being distributed by the Afghan Red Crescent Society to 1,500 households between now and the coming winter.
    • The newly displaced tend to rely heavily on assistance, particularly during the winter. They will be meeting their basic needs through external aid and purchasing food, funded in part by daily, casual labor wages, but their dietary diversity is likely to be low and far lower than when they were displaced. They are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from September to December.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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