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Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected through at least the end of the lean season

  • Key Message Update
  • Afghanistan
  • November 2022
Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected through at least the end of the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Although humanitarian assistance is likely preventing worse acute food insecurity outcomes, parts of Afghanistan that are worst affected by the drought are still likely facing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. According to WFP’s public distribution reports, at least 10 million people received assistance in October and at least 12.4 million people received assistance in November. WFP will likely continue to provide a large proportion of the population with assistance through the end of the lean season in April, when the wheat and poppy harvests become available. Many households will likely rely heavily on this assistance as winter sets in, given that household income from labor-related activities will seasonally decline and households will atypically exhaust their food stocks. However, given the large gap in food and income, many poor households in urban and rural areas will still struggle to meet their basic food needs and will likely resort to selling assets and borrowing food. The areas of highest concern include Badghis, Ghor, Daykundi, Badakhshan, Bamyan, and Faryab provinces.

    • Despite ongoing La Niña conditions, precipitation at the start of the winter wet season has been favorable across much of the country from mid-October to November, with the notable exception of southern and southeastern areas. While forecast models now indicate average cumulative precipitation for the wet season across much of the country, precipitation through December will determine total winter wheat area planted. Furthermore, the long-term impacts of the two-year drought are expected to negatively impact winter pasture and planting, and it is still likely that area planted will be below average due to continued dry soils and lower-than-normal access to agricultural inputs. In the spring, the timing and distribution of rainfall in March and April will be key for determining the level of spring wheat planting. Average rainfall and snowpack will likely relatively improve pasture conditions in the spring, but due to the prolonged impact of consecutive droughts, pasture will likely remain lower than usual. 

    • According to the UNODC, poppy production in Afghanistan was over 30 percent higher in 2022 than in 2021, marking the third-largest cultivation harvest since 1991. Following the announcement banning poppy cultivation in Spring 2022, poppy prices dramatically increased in April 2022, driving a tripling of the income farmers earned from 2021 to 2022 from poppy sales. Farmers still engage in this activity despite the ban, and this likely led to relative improvement in income earned for some poor households, particularly in the southwest; however, many poor households do not have access to their own agricultural land or have access to very small plots, and competition for poppy-related labor is high, which limits income from this source. Additionally, given the high cost of essential food and non-food goods, the impact on household purchasing power has likely been low. In some areas, poppy cultivation for the 2023 production year started in late October, but the primary planting period began in early November.  

    • Overall, wheat flour imports continue to support near-normal levels of wheat flour availability on the market. According to the USDA, wheat flour imports for the 2022/23 marketing year are expected to be similar to that of the 2021/22 marketing year. However, wheat flour prices remain above average due to persistent macroeconomic challenges. In Faizabad, Kabul, and Nili markets, October wheat flour prices ranged from nearly 10 to slightly over 15 percent higher than last year. The cost of cooking oil decreased by 5 percent and 14 percent compared to the previous month and a year ago, respectively; however, the price remains around 8 percent more than the two-year average. Improvements in market supply and stability in global prices drive the decline in cooking oil prices.

    • Casual labor wages have declined since August 2021, as well as associated labor availability in the formal and informal sectors. Consecutive years of below-average staple production, with particularly poor harvests in 2022, have also adversely impacted the availability of labor opportunities in major production areas. A household can only purchase around 1.5 kg of wheat flour with one day’s wage from casual labor. This amount is nearly a five percent increase in purchasing power from the previous month due to the decline in wheat prices; however, it remains lower than typical. 

    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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