November 8, 2021 - An estimated 22.8 million people, or 55 per cent of Afghanistan’s population, face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity due to prolonged drought, conflict and economic collapse.
“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises, if not the worst,” said David Beasley, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) executive director.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, nearly 19 million Afghans, or 45 per cent of the population, are experiencing “high levels of food insecurity.” That number will likely jump to 22.8 million between November and March.
The IPC uses a five-level ranking system to classify food insecurity, one being “minimal” and five constituting “famine.” In the case of Afghanistan, more than half the population is either experiencing “crisis” (level 3) or “emergency” (level 4) food insecurity. The UN determines the ranking by assessing markers such as access to food and the impact of malnutrition, especially among children.
“We are on a countdown to catastrophe,” said Beasley.
The problems began before the Taliban takeover. Because of conflict between January and October 31, the UN found that more than 681,600 people became internally displaced.
Also, an acute drought in late 2020 led to reduced snow in the mountains, hurting farmers who depend on snowmelt for their crops and livestock. About 70 per cent of the 41.7 million population lives in rural areas.
Speaking on the BBC, the WFP’s Beasley said that the next six months will be catastrophic for Afghanistan. “It is going to be hell on Earth.”
In a message to world leaders and billionaires, Beasley added: “and when there’s $400 trillion of wealth on the earth today -- shame on us if we let any child die from hunger. I don’t care where that child is, shame on us.”