Severe food insecurity on the rise in Afghanistan: UN
KABUL (Pajhwok): The number of Afghans resorting to selling land or turning to friends or family for help because of food insecurity doubled last year, UN and partner agencies said on Thursday.
In a joint report,World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) painted a bleak picture of food security in the country.
Published by FSAC, the 2015 Seasonal Food Security Assessment in Afghanistan (SFSA) found that at the peak of the lean season, the number of Afghans facing severe food insecurity increased from 4.7 percent of the population 12 months ago to 5.9 percent today.
In other words, more than 1.5 million people are now considered severely food-insecure, an increase of more than 317,000. Another 7.3 million people, more than one in every four Afghans, are classed as moderately food-insecure.
Alarmingly, many more people are now forced to sell land, take children out of school to work, or depend on relatives for support. The report indicates the number of people engaged in these last-ditch actions has doubled over the past year to more than 20 percent of food-insecure Afghans.
Claude Jibidar, WFPcountry director, said: “When people resort to these measures, they have no resilience against future shocks. These figures are extremely alarming, especially in a country where more than one third of allpeople are already food insecure…”
FAO representativeTomioShichiripredicted Afghanistan would produce slightly more wheat this year, but a large number of poor and hungrypeople would not be able to purchase food from the market.
“It is a question of access to food rather than its production. Special attention needs to be given to female-headed households and displaced people to improve their access to, and improvements of,agriculture-based livelihoods.”
Female-headed households are almost 50 percent more likely to be severely food insecure than other families, having a much poorer diet than their peers and a much lower income, according to the report.
Southeastern Khost and Paktika provinces, hosting over 35,000 displaced households (more than 200,000 people), needed immediate support to prevent food insecurity from worsening, the report stressed.
“It is the last resort when farmers start selling productive assets such as livestock, machinery or land,” said Abdul Majid, FSAC coordinator. “This is not only a loss for farmers but for the entire community - as skills and means for agricultural production will be lost…”
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and LivestockAssadullah Zamirreferred to the disturbing fact that one third of the Afghan population was food-insecure and their situation continued to worsen. “We request the donor community to continue assisting the most vulnerable Afghans before it becomes too late.”
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