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Food access moderately improves as the 2023 harvest begins, and market access increases

  • Key Message Update
  • Afghanistan
  • May 2023
Food access moderately improves as the 2023 harvest begins, and market access increases

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The availability of labor opportunities tied to the upcoming harvest in Ghor Province is improving conditions and driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Despite moderate seasonal improvements in food access, poor households await the harvest for their own consumption and still face difficulty accessing food from markets due to their low purchasing power. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes remain widespread. Households in many areas continue to access assistance, mitigating food consumption deficits, resulting in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes, although food assistance distributions have lessened. In the coming months, household consumption of own produced food from the harvest will improve food security and increase the total population in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In rural areas where the harvest begins in July, and many urban areas where purchasing power remains low, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist.

    • In May, WFP targeted around five million people to receive humanitarian food assistance, which is four million lower than the number of people targeted in April. As of late May, of those targeted with food assistance in May, WFP reached nearly 375,000 people with food aid. The continuous decline in the number of people targeted and reached with assistance and low ration sizes is due to funding restraints. However, in some areas receiving assistance, food consumption deficits are being mitigated.

    • May marked the typical end of the 2022/23 precipitation season, registering below-average precipitation, resulting in deficits across most of the country. In northern areas of the country, the largest precipitation deficits brought drought conditions, making it the country’s third consecutive drought. Yet a few areas in eastern Afghanistan received normal precipitation, allowing for crop development. However, low soil moisture conditions observed in central, western, and northern areas, coupled with the below-average snow water volume in most basins, will likely reduce water availability, especially in downstream areas, as the main harvest begins in June/July.

    • The 2023 wheat harvest started in early May in some low-lying areas of the south and southeast, with crops in later development stages across the rest of the country. Despite localized production deficits from drought and flooding, the national harvest is still expected to be near average. Eastern, southern, and southeastern areas of the country, where the harvest has begun, are observing a normal harvest progression, except for localized areas of Nangarhar and Laghman provinces, where flooding led to water logging among crops. In Balkh, Samangan, Kunduz, and Baghlan provinces in the north, crop development was stunted due to drought conditions. In addition to the challenges of drought conditions in these areas, there are reports of some crop damage due to locusts.

    • National averages of wheat, wheat flour, and cooking oil prices decreased by five to 10 percent between April and May, mainly due to the stable supply from source markets, continued market price controls, and declines in global and regional market prices. Prices of staple foods also decreased considerably in the highlands, given the improved seasonal conditions, improving market supply, and ease of physical access for households. Purchasing power of daily casual laborers and pastoralists has also seen seasonal improvements. This is due to lower food prices coupled with an increase in the number of available days per week and seasonal increases in livestock prices bolstered by favorable livestock body conditions, respectively.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Afghanistan Key Message Update, May 2023: Food access moderately improves as the 2023 harvest begins, and market access increases, 2023.

    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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