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Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes persist amid drought, high food prices, and low labor demand

  • Key Message Update
  • Afghanistan
  • January 2023
Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes persist amid drought, high food prices, and low labor demand

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the peak of the lean season approaches, household purchasing power remains low due to both high staple food prices and low levels of income. While income-earning opportunities in both urban and rural areas are typically low at this time of year, poor economic conditions have driven a decline in both the availability of and the income earned from these opportunities. Additionally, while staple food prices have remained stable or slightly declined, prices remain above average. In rural areas, households have few food stocks remaining from last year’s harvests and are now primarily relying on market purchases and humanitarian assistance for food. Humanitarians continue to prioritize some of the worst drought-affected areas for food assistance distributions, and these distributions are expected to continue to mitigate the size of household food consumption gaps. As a result, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes – with a subset of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) – are expected through at least May. 

    • According to WFP, more than 7.7 million people received emergency food and nutrition assistance in January. While levels of assistance are high, distributions did not meet the target of 15 million people due to delays related to the ban on female NGO workers and winter weather conditions. Distributions were partially to fully suspended in some areas, including Ghor and Badghis, which are among the areas of highest concern. Negotiations are ongoing for all NGO workers to resume activities, with exemptions already granted for health and nutrition workers, and these efforts are expected to facilitate the continuation of assistance deliveries in February. As a result, while food assistance is mitigating the severity of food consumption deficits among recipients, households with insufficient access to assistance face Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    • Precipitation in January was generally below average across most of the country. As a result, precipitation deficits during the October 1 to January 31 period were as large as 25 to 40 percent of average. At this point in the season, prospects for recovery in winter precipitation totals are generally low, and forecast models indicate that total precipitation for the October to February period will be below average, with few areas receiving average precipitation. Despite poor winter precipitation, average spring precipitation is still expected from March to May. While spring precipitation will likely facilitate rainfed crop development, close monitoring is needed for both rainfed and irrigated crops. Currently, snowpack availability is insufficient for normal irrigated crop development. 

    • Overall, income for food purchases is lower than typical due to the decline in available labor opportunities. In December, the average number of casual labor days available per week was about 1.7 nationwide, which is a more than 15 percent decrease compared to the 2021 average. The decline in available labor opportunities is due to poor economic conditions within the country. While the terms of trade (ToT) for a day’s labor wage and wheat grain were stable between November and December, it was 36 percent lower than that recorded before the change in government power in August 2021. 

    • Staple food prices are stable, driven by reduced demand due to ongoing humanitarian assistance delivery, normal levels of imports, and stable prices on the global market. Nationally, the average price of imported wheat flour decreased by 4 percent compared to last month; however, prices remain around 15 percent higher than the two-year average. Diesel prices also decreased by 4 percent compared to last month, contributing to the lower staple food prices. However, diesel prices remain 20 percent higher than last year and 62 percent higher than the two-year average. 

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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