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Prices of food and fuel remain significantly higher than last year despite recent declines

  • Key Message Update
  • Afghanistan
  • September 2022
Prices of food and fuel remain significantly higher than last year despite recent declines

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • According to WFP price data, the cost of the minimum food basket (MFB)[1] declined by 5 percent from August to September[2] on average at the national level. This was primarily due to an 11 percent decline in the cost of cooking oil, while prices of wheat flour and pulses remained relatively stable (declined by 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively). However, the cost of the MFB in September remained 22 percent higher than the same time last year, mostly driven by wheat flour prices that were 31 percent above last year’s levels. High transportation costs continue to contribute to elevated food prices in Afghanistan. Though diesel prices declined by 5 percent from August to September, prices remained 81 percent higher than last year. It should also be noted that prices last year were already elevated following the impacts of COVID-19; though historical data are not available for all markets, prices of staple wheat flour and diesel in Kabul in September 2021 were already 41 percent and 17 percent higher, respectively, than the 2016-20 average.

    • Many rural households will soon start—or have already started—stocking food for the winter and lean seasons. However, due to elevated food prices, purchasing power is below average. With casual labor demand and wage rates in September 2022 similar to the already low levels recorded last year, an unskilled laborer could buy only around 80 percent of the same MFB, on average at the national level, due to the elevated food prices. Meanwhile, with livestock prices also similar to last year, a pastoralist household could similarly buy only around 80 percent of the same MFB with the sale of one sheep. At the same time, households’ cereal stocks from the main harvest are likely significantly below normal in areas worst affected by drought in the recent season, increasing market purchase requirements.

    • Action Against Hunger conducted sixteen nutrition SMART surveys from late May to early September 2022. Preliminary findings suggest that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) was likely within “Alert” levels (5-9.9% prevalence) in Helmand, Wardak, Sar-e-pul, and Kunduz provinces and “Serious” levels (10-14.9%) in Parwan, Kabul (both urban and rural), Kapisa, Khost, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Nimroz, Balkh, and Farah provinces according to IPC thresholds. Meanwhile, Paktika registered GAM on the border of “Serious” and “Critical” (15-29.9%) thresholds. Though acute malnutrition prevalence normally peaks in the summer and declines during winter alongside reductions in seasonal diseases, WFP’s August suspension of school feeding programming in many provinces may contribute to an increase in acute malnutrition in affected areas if sustained.

    • Though widespread Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are now expected at the provincial level given seasonal improvements from the harvest and significant humanitarian assistance, the total number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes is atypically high due to poor macroeconomic conditions, above-average prices, and the impacts of drought and recent flooding. The population in need will likely begin to increase again with the start of winter in November, with area-level Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes likely to re-emerge in November/December in areas worst affected by drought. Worse outcomes would be expected in the absence of anticipated assistance.

      [1] 100 kg of wheat flour, 9.1 kg of cooking oil, and 12.5 kg of pulses

      [2] September averages use available data for the first three weeks of September

    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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