Afghanistan: Efforts to prevent a food crisis before it all gets worse

FAO is working to urgently raise $ 36 million to accelerate support to Afghan farmers. The support aims to ensure that they do not lose their crops, wheat and other winter grains, which could otherwise lead to a food emergency that would exacerbate the crisis in the Asian country. Credit: FAO
  • Opinion by Mario Lubetkin (Rome)
  • Inter Press Service

Perhaps one of the least discussed arguments in the current situation is the state of agriculture and food in the country and the possible effects on these sectors which, if not addressed in time, could worsen an already very delicate situation.

At an extraordinary ministerial meeting held on Monday, September 13, convened by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, to discuss urgent measures to be taken to alleviate the critical humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the potential problem of hunger, particularly suffered by girls and boys, was born out of several interventions carried out by many countries, donors and international organizations.

Failure to cope with the approaching critical fall, anticipated drought, economic crisis, instability and the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a devastating scenario of hunger and migratory flows, both in the inside and outside.

Drought threatens the livelihoods of seven million Afghans if support for the season’s harvest does not arrive on time.

In Afghanistan, 70 percent of its population (around 36 million people) live in rural areas, and agriculture ensures the survival of 80 percent of the population.

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, has called for an urgent contribution of $ 36 million to immediately address the agricultural and food situation in Afghanistan, in order to bring relief for 3.5 million people.

FAO currently supports more than 1.5 million people in 28 of Afghanistan’s 31 provinces. Assistance in this sector should consist of technical assistance, seed donation, training and small financial assistance to ensure basic nutritional needs.

The drought forecast this year will cut plantations by 20 percent and require a 30 percent increase in grain requirements, while three million head of cattle will be at risk.

Advances in technology and information technology allow many disasters to be anticipated before they occur and cause human suffering that exacerbates threats to food security and rural livelihoods in countries in severe crisis , as in the case of Afghanistan. Such advances require a massive intensification of these digital instruments.

FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, considers that given the complexity, frequency and intensity of new countries that add to the dramatic food crises, it is not possible to continue to resort to strategies of the past. We must move forward in innovation and more efficient and wiser investments.

In this context, immediate action in Afghanistan must build on past experiences and be adapted to achieve better immediate results at lower cost.

Over the past five years, the number of people globally affected by food crisis increased to 155 million in 2020 in 55 countries, while another 41 million face food insecurity emergencies, thus risking to suffer from famine or similar. conditions unless they receive immediate help to survive.

More than 811 million people suffer from hunger in the world, a trend that has increased in recent years.

The increase in humanitarian funding for the food sector – from $ 6.2 billion to nearly $ 8 billion between 2016 and 2019 – has been significant, although it is still not sufficient to provide emergency aid basic.

In the case of Afghanistan, several countries listened to the United Nations’ request to undertake urgent cooperation with the country, multiplying emergency humanitarian contributions in a country where half of the national budget depended on the international contribution.

Raising contributions quickly and using them effectively will reduce costs.

In its new reality, the situation in Afghanistan is a challenge for the entire international community. Solving it positively will demonstrate that it is possible to reverse negative trends in global food security. Remember that there are less than 10 years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the second of which is the eradication of hunger in the world, included in the 2030 Agenda.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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