- Wheat production in the 2021/22 production season was below average for a second consecutive year due primarily to below-average rainfall in the October 2021 to May 2022 precipitation season, with the worst production deficits expected in northern rainfed production areas. A significant increase in area planted with poppy also led to a reduction in wheat cultivation in some provinces.
- Production of second-season crops—including maize and rice—is progressing well in many areas. However, in some localized areas, lack of irrigation water has reportedly negatively impacted production. Meanwhile, area planted under cotton—another second-season crop and an important cash crop—has increased alongside increased demand from neighboring Pakistan and Turkey. According to key informants, cotton production is progressing well in northern and southern Afghanistan, particularly in Balkh and Helmand provinces. Cotton prices have also been significantly higher than in the previous years.
- Although staple foods remain available in markets, significantly elevated prices continue to restrict many households’ financial access to sufficient food. According to data from WFP, prices of wheat flour (low price) in Kabul declined by 5 percent from July to August alongside increased supply from the harvest, but increased by 4 percent from July to August. Prices remain significantly elevated due to below-average domestic production, above-average regional prices, and high transportation costs driven by significantly above-average fuel prices. In August, prices of wheat flour (low price) in Kabul were a full 39 percent higher than the same time last year and 89 percent higher than the five-year average. Prices of other key staples are also above average. Despite declining for two consecutive months alongside declining global prices, prices of vegetable oil in August remained 8 percent higher than the same time last year and 81 percent above the five-year average.
- WFP planned to reach 10.4 million people with emergency food, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance in August 2022. This total is in line with targets of 10 million per month in the post-harvest period since June.
- In August, seasonal improvements in access to food and income from agricultural production are supporting many rural households’ food consumption. However, crop production was below-average in many areas due to a second consecutive drought. Income-earning from many other typical sources (with the notable exception of cash crop production) also likely remains below-average, with those previously formally employed in the private sector worst affected. According to the UNDP, more than 700,000 jobs have been lost in Afghanistan from August 15, 2021, to July 2022. Given these circumstances and significantly above-average prices of food and non-food commodities, millions of households continue to rely on remittances and humanitarian food assistance as key sources of food and income. Though widespread Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected at the provincial level given seasonal improvements—including from above-average income from poppy and cotton production—and significant assistance, the total number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes is atypically high.
- According to data from UN OCHA, 223,365 people were affected by natural disasters from January 1 to August 31, 2022. This is double the five-year average for that time period. Over 85,000 people (one third of the total) were affected by earthquakes in Paktika and Khost in June, while over 78,800 people were affected by flooding in the south and east of the country bordering Pakistan in July and August. Many natural disaster-affected households lost homes, assets, and livestock, with worst-affected poor households likely in need of emergency humanitarian food assistance to prevent food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
- According to the IOM, over 4.2 million Afghan nationals moved out of Afghanistan and into neighboring Pakistan (2,853,035) and Iran (1,378,045) between August 2021 and July 2022. Meanwhile, approaching 3.6 million Afghans moved into Afghanistan from Pakistan (2,539,000) and Iran (1,044,457). Many are returning to Afghanistan with minimal assets, shelter, and security, and are facing significant difficulty finding income-earning opportunities and establishing livelihoods. Most of those returning from Iran have forcibly been repatriated, and many families dependent on remittances from Iran—especially in Herat, Badghis, Daykundi, Bamyan, and Ghor—have likely lost a crucial source of support. Worst-affected returnees and poor households who have lost remittances from Iran are likely experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the absence of assistance or Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes where assistance is available. Other households dependent on remittances from Iran are likely experiencing income losses due to the devaluation of the Iranian Rial and decreased labor opportunities in Iran.
- According to nutrition SMART assessments conducted in March/April 2022 (the peak of the rural lean season in lower elevation areas), the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among children under five as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) and/or oedema was 1.5 percent [95% CI: 0.7-3.2] in Herat province 2.1 percent [95% CI: 1.0-4.0] in Faryab province, 4.4 percent [95% CI: 3.0-6.3] in Badghis province, and 5.9 percent [95% CI: 3.7-9.2] in Ghor province. Results are within “Acceptable” levels of acute malnutrition in Herat, Faryab, and Badhis, and “Alert” levels in Ghor, according to the IPC reference table. This broadly supports classification of area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) level outcomes, as area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are typically accompanied by higher levels of acute malnutrition when sustained. In addition to inadequate food consumption for some, poor sanitation practices and lack of access to health services contribute to acute malnutrition in Afghanistan, with peak levels normally recorded during the summer alongside higher prevalence of diarrhea among children. According to UNICEF, admissions of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have been highest in the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces during the peak summer months this year.
- Given below-average domestic production, Afghanistan’s demand for wheat and wheat flour imports from regional suppliers will likely be above average. Early estimates from key informants and market sources indicate that cereal imports may increase significantly from last year’s levels. Supply from Kazakhstan and Pakistan is expected to be sufficient to meet Afghanistan’s import needs.
- Due to high global prices and disruptions to supply chains, fuel prices are expected to remain high or further increase and will likely remain significantly above average throughout the projection period.
- Staple wheat flour prices are expected to follow typical seasonal trends, increasing during the winter and lean seasons, and remain significantly above average due to high global and regional prices, high transportation costs, and a greater-than-normal reliance on imports due to below-average domestic production.
- According to key informants, potato production in the central highlands is now expected to be below average. This will likely lead to below-average market availability of domestic potatoes from September to December 2022.
- Prices of cotton and poppy are expected to remain significantly above average. This will support above-average income-earning from cash crop sales, compensating for losses in wheat production for households who benefit.
- According to international forecasts, precipitation at the beginning of Afghanistan’s 2022/23 winter wet season, from October 2022 to January 2023, is most likely to be below average given forecast La Niña conditions. Moreover, above-average temperatures are most likely throughout most of the country. Should this forecast manifest, it could lead to a third consecutive drought year in parts of Afghanistan.
- Planting of winter wheat for the 2022/23 season will occur from around September to December, providing some seasonal income from agricultural labor opportunities. However, winter wheat planting could be negatively impacted by below-average precipitation, depending on the timing and distribution of precipitation that is received. In January, availability of income from agricultural labor opportunities will seasonally decline.
- Income from non-agricultural labor opportunities is expected to decline as is typical during the winter months and will likely remain below normal due to poor macroeconomic conditions in Afghanistan and increased competition for available opportunities.
- Income from foreign remittances will likely remain above average as the diaspora continues to respond to high levels of need. However, remittances from Iran will likely remain below average due to fewer Afghan workers in the country.
- From October to December, rural households typically stock food for the winter and lean seasons. However, many households will likely be unable to stock sufficient food this year due to below-average wheat production, below-average purchasing power, and below-average volumes of cash and in-kind payments for agricultural labor.
- Humanitarian assistance provision will likely remain significantly higher than in recent years. WFP plans to reach 10 million people each month from June to September. Following this, given historical trends, WFP will most likely scale up assistance provision during the winter and lean seasons. However, overall development funding will likely remain significantly below average due to less interaction between the donor community and the Taliban government.