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Income losses and significantly above-average prices are constraining food access for an increasing number of households in both rural and urban areas. The ILO estimates that around 500,000 people lost their jobs in the third quarter of 2021. In Kabul, wheat flour prices in early February 2022 were 81 percent above the five-year average. After an early start to the lean season, an above-average number of rural households are expected to have exhausted food stocks, increasing reliance on market purchases while availability of income-earning opportunities is at seasonally low levels.
Despite declarations that the country’s banking sector will resume normal operations, the central bank of Afghanistan has not been able to normalize the banking system due to liquidity shortages which have prevented it from repaying foreign currency liabilities owed to commercial banks. According to key informants, most people are able to withdraw cash within the set weekly limits, though some banks are experiencing periodic shortages of cash, forcing them to deny payments to customers.
Precipitation received since late December 2021 has improved the performance of the 2021/22 wet season to date. As the winter wet season (October 2021 to February 2022) draws to a close, cumulative precipitation is now likely near average to above average in eastern and some western areas, though below average across most of the country (Figures 1 & 2). Though ground information is limited, it is expected that recent precipitation and improved soil moisture has supported spring planting and normal germination of the winter crop. However, given below-average snowpack and forecast below-average precipitation during the March to May 2022 spring season, wheat production is likely to be below-average at the national level, with the greatest concern for deficits in northern rainfed areas.
As the lean season progresses, more households will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in rural and urban areas. With the start of harvesting around May/June in lower elevation areas and July/August in higher elevation areas, seasonal improvements in food availability will likely improve outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most rural areas. However, in the June to September period, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to re-emerge in areas worst impacted by below-average crop and livestock production. In urban areas, typical spring improvement in economic activity will be less than normal given reduced investment in the country, though some increases in income-earning will likely support improved food access for poor households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level.
Humanitarian assistance continues to be significantly scaled up, beyond what was planned in 2021. WFP reported reaching 8.5 million people with food and nutrition assistance (expected to include a variety of programs) in January 2022, more than eight times the 900,000 reached in January 2021. WFP plans to reach 15 million people in February 2022. Other organizations such as the Red Crescent are also distributing assistance. Though precise information is limited, in total, 10-30 percent of the population, on average, is expected to be receiving emergency food assistance during the lean season. High levels of assistance are likely preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in some central highland provinces.
|CURRENT ANOMALIES||PROJECTED ANOMALIES|
As the lean season progresses through around April 2022, additional households in both rural and urban areas are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes given below-average and seasonally low income-earning alongside significantly above-average prices of food and non-food commodities. In rural areas, more households are expected to exhaust below-average food stocks, becoming increasingly dependent on markets for food, with income insufficient to meet needs. In urban areas, more poor households are expected to exhaust available coping capacity after months of below-average income-earning opportunities and rising prices. As such, poor households across the country will increasingly consume less expensive, less nutritious foods and restrict caloric intake. Among pastoralist households, food and income from livestock products will seasonally increase in the spring. However, in areas where livestock productivity is below-average, food and income from livestock products will likely be below normal, reducing typical improvements in food consumption and dietary diversity for pastoralist households. Atypically early livestock sales at lower prices could start as early as March in areas worst affected by pasture shortages.
A seasonal increase in the prevalence of acute respiratory infections, acute malnutrition, and hunger-related mortality is expected through March, and levels are expected to be higher than normal due to the reduced health system capacity and increased food insecurity in the country. Worst-affected households not receiving assistance are expected to engage in extreme coping and face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with particular concern for drought-affected areas, urban areas, and hard-to-reach highland areas where livelihood options are more limited.
In April/May 2022, the start of the main harvest in lower elevation areas is expected to increase availability of food from own production and increase demand for agricultural labor. This will improve access to food and income for many rural households. However, reduced purchasing power among those who hire labor will likely constrain normal income-earning from labor, and demand for labor will be further reduced in areas where crop and livestock production is below average. In these areas, cash and in-kind payments for agricultural labor will also likely be below normal. However, many poor households are expected to be able to compensate by accessing labor from poppy cultivation, especially in southern provinces. Also around April/May, livestock prices are expected to increase due to high demand associated with Ramadan, supporting access to income for pastoralist households. Additionally, increased food availability from the harvest is expected to lead to a slight decline in staple wheat prices across the country, as is typical, though rising global prices could constrain this. Overall, seasonal improvements in availability of food and income are expected to improve area-level outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most rural areas around May/June in lower elevation areas and July/August in higher elevation areas (where harvesting starts later, in July). In urban areas, some increases in income-earning will likely support improved food access and outcomes for some poor households in the spring, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level. In the June to September period, as prices rise and rural households exhaust resources from the harvest season, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to re-emerge in rural areas worst impacted by below-average crop and livestock production. Throughout the projection period, millions of poor people in both urban and rural areas will remain in need of humanitarian assistance.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario:
Impact on food security outcomes
Localized rural areas
Drought conditions result in significantly below-average crop and livestock production
Poor households in affected rural areas would likely not experience normal seasonal improvements in access to food and income from crop production, labor, and livestock. Some farming households may harvest little or nothing. Livestock production could significantly reduce, and many pastoralist households would likely engage in atypically early livestock sales at lower prices, reducing income earned for the season. Agricultural labor opportunities would be less than anticipated. Area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would likely persist in these areas.
SEASONAL CALENDAR FOR A TYPICAL YEAR
Source: FEWS NET
In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.