KABUL – With dire malnutrition and hunger crisis in Afghanistan reaching alarming levels, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced aid to 8 million food-insecure people due to a lack of funding.
According to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this move puts Afghanistan’s most remote regions at risk, leaving millions of vulnerable individuals without crucial humanitarian assistance.
To combat the escalating rates of hunger and malnutrition, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that a staggering USD 1.2 billion is required. Tragically, as a consequence of the funding shortfall, approximately 1.4 million new and expectant mothers, toddlers, and preschoolers are no longer receiving the essential food supplies designed to prevent malnutrition.
The report emphasizes that from this month onwards, emergency food assistance will only reach 5 million people, leaving 15 million in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) 3 and 4 uncertain about where their next meal will come from.
In another blow to the country’s well-being, funding shortages have forced the closure of 25 mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs) in Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, and Nangarhar provinces. This closure means over 100,000 individuals in the Eastern region will be deprived of essential health and nutrition care services.
The financial gaps also threaten the livelihoods of more than 31,500 households with severely undernourished children. These vulnerable children will be denied access to vital integrated cash packages for nutrition, exacerbating their already precarious situation due to the lack of funding.
In addition to these challenges, the Taliban’s restrictive measures on education may lead to the closure of 2,800 community-based classrooms. This move will adversely affect 83,000 children, with 59 per cent of them being girls, preventing them from continuing their education beyond the sixth grade.
Further hardships abound, with around 2.6 million people in need of access to clean drinking water, 1.5 million lacking hygiene education, 1.6 million missing necessary nonfood items, and 844,000 exposed to poor sanitation conditions.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that as of June this year, only 9 per cent of the required USD 4.6 billion for Afghanistan’s initial Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) has been received, leaving a substantial gap in the funding needed to provide critical assistance.
The WFP has issued a warning that if the funding shortfalls are not addressed promptly, the organization’s budget for food assistance will be depleted by the end of October, leaving millions of Afghans without a lifeline to combat hunger and malnutrition.