Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Newsweek oped: Afghanistan’s Stability Depends on Food

President Joe Biden‘s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan must be accompanied by a massive increase in food aid. If Afghanistan is to gain stability and peace, we have to help stop the hunger crisis happening there.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) stated nearly 17 million Afghans are living with severe hunger. That amounts to almost half the population struggling to find food.

see my full commentary at Newsweek

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Emergency food aid being rushed to Afghans

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said Thursday they are providing emergency food aid to Afghans displaced by fighting. In the Northern province of Kunduz, conflict has forced families to flee to numerous locations within Afghanistan.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Ukraine fighting escalates, food needs grow

Fighting has intensified in the Eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian rebels. The country is also plunging deeper into a hunger crisis.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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We must not forget Afghanistan

As winter approaches in Afghanistan, there is alarming news about hunger. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), facing low funding, says its been forced to cut food aid for hungry Afghans.

Read the article at Examiner.

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Pakistanis, Afghans need food as conflict escalates

The Pakistani army is carrying out assaults against militant groups in north Waziristan. These militants include Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked forces. The fighting has also displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, some whom have fled into neighboring Afghanistan.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Thousands need food after floods in Afghanistan

Flash floods in Afghanistan have displaced thousands of people who need food aid. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday it has distributed emergency rations to 1600 victims in Baghlan Province. Other areas have been impacted by floods as well.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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World Food Programme Urgently Seeks Donations for Afghanistan

WFP’s Food for Training Program in Afghanistan provides rations for street children at Aschiana Foundation Centers. Funding is needed by WFP and Aschiana to ensure these programs can be maintained and expanded to reach impoverished children. (photo courtesy WFP/Assadullah Azhari)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says it’s seeking “urgent contributions” for its food assistance programs in Afghanistan. WFP has only received 69 million of the 365 million dollars needed for the 2012 country program. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations.

To fight hunger and build food security in Afghanistan, WFP organizes Food for Work to improve agriculture, nutrition assistance for mothers and infants, and a school feeding program to help educate children. These initiatives are essential as nearly one third of the country is suffering from hunger and millions of others are on the brink.

During July, WFP provided school feeding to one million Afghan children and sponsored Food for Work projects focusing on watershed management, cleaning of irrigation systems and feeder roads rehabilitation. WFP fed over 150,000 people in the Mother & Child Health and Nutrition and TB programmes.

WFP’s ability to continue providing this food is in doubt as the agency “needs additional resources to avoid food pipeline breaks in wheat and High Energy Biscuits beginning in October 2012.”

Food prices remain high in Afghanistan and continued insecurity makes distribution of food a dangerous challenge. WFP is currently doing a Food Security and Livelihood Assessment to help plan its strategy going forward in Afghanistan.

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The Challenge of Getting Food to Afghan Schoolchildren

Imagine you have been given a special assignment: to make sure every child in Afghanistan is able to receive school meals. If you are successful, you can save Afghan children from hunger and malnutrition. The meals will help children have the energy and strength to come to school and learn. In essence, you will be playing a huge role in building Afghanistan’s future.

Your mission begins. You line up funding, of course, or you won’t get anywhere. Once you have funding to purchase the food for the school feeding, can you buy it locally and help out Afghan farmers and food producers? Maybe you can, maybe not. You might need to mix local production with some imported food.

Then there is the transportation of the food. This is a decent challenge no matter where you are in the world. In Afghanistan though it is especially difficult as the road system is not well-developed. Weather can wreak havoc in parts of Afghanistan. There is also the issue of security for your food transport in a country plagued by conflict and unrest.

Stuck In The Mud in Afghanistan: Drivers have to dig trucks out of the mud or shovel dry dirt onto the roads in order to get vehicles moving again. (WFP / Hukomat Khan)

In a nutshell, these are some of the challenges facing the UN World Food Programme (WFP) as it tries to provide food for schoolchildren in Afghanistan. WFP is the largest food aid organization in the world and it is entirely voluntarily funded by governments and the public. WFP’s goal is to work with the Afghan government to provide meals for every child at school as well as take-home rations. This food also serves as an incentive for parents to send their children to school. The stronger the school feeding program, the stronger the enrollment and class performance.

Back in April WFP sent out a convoy of trucks to bring 200 tons of school meals to the remote Daykundi province of central Afghanistan. The mission had to be delayed briefly when violence flared up around the country. But WFP was determined to get the food there.

High Climbers: The unpaved roads – some at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres – become impassable in the winter months, and are left muddy and slippery in the spring. (WFP / Hukomat Khan)

Shershah Wahidi, the Senior Logistics Assistant, said, “The roads in this part of Afghanistan don’t usually reopen until late May. But we had to send food to these villages early this year because this region remains without food during winter. We wanted to make sure that supplies for the schools were in place in good time to convince students to start attending classes as early as possible.”

On The Edge: Many of the drivers working for WFP in Afghanistan have been driving these routes for more than 20 years. (WFP / Hukomat Khan)

A week-long trek, through rain, mud, and sometimes snow, followed. It was Afghanistan’s version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but WFP made the deliveries of high-energy biscuits and vegetable oil to the school feeding program.

Another convoy in June was not as fortunate. WFP reports: “On 4 June, a WFP convoy carrying food – 15 light trucks clearly marked with WFP logos – was attacked by anti-government elements in Parwan province. Although the drivers escaped unharmed, three trucks were burned, with their cargo of High Energy Biscuits lost.”

Funding for Afghan hunger relief continues to be an issue as WFP has “received less than one fifth of its 2012 funding needs so far” for its country operation. This includes the school feeding program as well as nutrition and food for work programs.

This shortage of food aid funding becomes a critical topic for debate as the US plans to reduce its Food for Peace program (Title II). The US makes donations through Food for Peace to countries around the world suffering from hunger. The less funding Food for Peace has, the less potential for donations to Afghanistan and other countries. The McGovern-Dole international school meals program is another US aid program whose funding is also being considered by Congress.

The World Food Program USA said last week that “recent congressional budget cuts reduce the impact of emergency funding by limiting both short- and long-term assistance programs. At a time when the need for food assistance is greater than ever, Title II programs should be fully-funded to improve the lasting success of the U.S. and recipient countries.”

It’s a daunting challenge getting food to Afghan schoolchildren. When one obstacle is cleared, another one is sure to present itself. What’s at stake is the future of every Afghan child as well as their country. If the children are fed and educated, Afghanistan can build a future of prosperity.


Biscuit Power: When distributed regularly to schoolchildren, high energy biscuits (HEBs) can act as an incentive for students to attend class regularly, as well as help to combat micronutrient deficiencies. WFP plans to give HEBs to nearly one million schoolchildren in Afghanistan this year. (WFP / Assadullah Azhari)

Buying Domestically: Most of the biscuits distributed by WFP in Afghanistan are imported from India, but WFP is working to build local capacity in order to buy more locally in future. (WFP/Silke Buhr)

Article first published as The Challenge of Getting Food to Afghan Schoolchildren on Blogcritics.

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U.S. Food for Peace and WFP Feeding Hungry Afghans

WFP recently distributed wheat to Afghans low on food supplies following a drought. (WFP/Silke Buhr)

Many people are accustomed to having three meals a day. Imagine though if you were allowed just one meal a day for an extended period of time. How would this affect your health, your work? If you were a child how would you be able to go to school and learn?

In Afghanistan, because of a severe drought last year, many already impoverished people were forced to cut back on their daily food intake. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), with support from the U.S. Food for Peace plan, is providing life-saving aid to millions of hungry Afghans as part of a drought relief operation.

Little rain meant Afghans could not grow enough food to support themselves. When drought strikes the impoverished, they have little to fall back on. The drought causes a spiraling disaster.

An Oxfam press release last November reported that “Families are coping by cutting down their meals, borrowing money and even migrating to Iran or Pakistan. Some 90 per cent of households in the affected area are now living in debt after borrowing money to buy food, and schools have closed as children are being put out to work.”

WFP’s Silke Buhr recently visited one of the food distributions in Samangan, which was one of 14 Afghan provinces struck by the drought. Buhr says WFP distributed a wheat ration which was the result of the U.S. Food for Peace donation. The wheat was purchased in Kazakhstan in order cut the shipping distance down as much as possible.

It was last October that the U.S. Food for Peace program made a $40 million donation to WFP’s Afghanistan relief mission. Food for Peace, which originally started during the Eisenhower administration, has long been the U.S.’s main tool for fighting global hunger. Food for Peace makes donations to support the hunger relief work of WFP as well as other agencies like Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children.

In Afghanistan Food for Peace donations are desperately needed. Even before the drought struck there were at least seven million Afghans suffering from hunger, and many others on the brink of what is called “food insecurity.” Hunger and malnutrition were already a crisis in Afghanistan and the recent drought has made the situation even worse.

Food for Peace and WFP can make the difference for Afghanistan moving toward peace and development. It’s all about the food. Without a base of food security no progress can be made in Afghanistan.

Emergency relief to drought-impacted persons is just the start. Support for the small farmers so they can withstand drought, food for education for children, and food for work to build roads are all critical to Afghanistan turning the corner.

It comes down to funding. Right now WFP needs a significant amount of donations to carry out its 2012 relief mission in Afghanistan.

The recent Food for Peace and WFP collaboration is promising. But will there be enough of it to turn the tide for hungry Afghanistan? It will be up to the political will of the international community to use food to build peace.

Article first published as U.S. Food for Peace and WFP Feeding Hungry Afghans on Blogcritics.

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Afghanistan Hunger Crisis Deepens, Donors Not Responding

Fields of Dust: This should be a wheat field, but nothing has been harvested from here this year. The poorest farmers don’t have any irrigation systems for their fields and rely entirely on rain – which came late and sparse in the winter of 2010/2011. In the 14 provinces of Afghanistan affected by the drought, farmers have lost an average of 80 percent of the rain-fed harvest. (WFP/Silke Buhr)

The hunger crisis is dangerously escalating in Afghanistan. Drought has struck 14 provinces putting over two million people at risk of severe hunger and malnutrition. The response of international donors has been poor despite warnings being issued by aid agencies. Only 7% of the UN drought appeal has been funded to this point.

Earlier this fall Oxfam warned that in the 14 drought-affected provinces, “Many people in these areas were already suffering from chronic hunger. Nearly three quarters of the people living in the affected areas told relief agencies in August that they would run out of food in less than two months.”

Today a joint statement from Oxfam and other aid agencies said the drought and food shortages are taking their toll in communities, “from the closure of schools, forced migration in order to find food and work and already vulnerable families forced deeper into debt in order to get through the winter.”

Manohar Shenoy, the Afghanistan country director for Oxfam says, “Time was already running short. With snow falling in the highlands, the situation for many people has now become critical.”

Many Afghan children had already lost their school feeding ration earlier this year when low funding for the UN World Food Programme forced cutbacks.

Shenoy says, “To survive, already vulnerable people are pushing themselves and their families to the extreme: sliding even deeper into debt and selling all rather than just some of their livestock. Meanwhile the chronic child labour problems in Afghanistan are being exacerbated, as younger children are being forced to work more, for less money. In the worst cases, destitute families are forced to marry off young girls and sell teenage sons to agents who then send them to work in cities. This not only causes anguish, but reverses important gains that Afghan society has made.”

Funding for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the lead agency in fighting hunger, has been low all year. WFP depends entirely on voluntary donations from the international community.

Silke Buhr of WFP says, “What is really worrying is the fact that for 2012 alone, we will need about US$390 million of which we have so far received nothing. Given that it takes between three and six months from the moment of pledge until beneficiaries actually receive the food, we will almost certainly have pipeline breaks…in early 2012.”

Afghanistan is looking at not only a severe hunger winter but suffering through 2012 and even beyond. Two things have to happen. One is to fund current relief operations to gain control of the hunger situation facing the country. This interim aid needs to be followed by a comprehensive plan to build resiliency among Afghan communities so droughts do not take such a toll.

It’s critical to note that even before the drought took hold, Afghanistan was already facing a hunger crisis with over seven million people listed as “food insecure” and many others on the brink. Poverty and malnutrition rates were already high.

The drought has sunk an already hungry and malnourished population deeper into the pit of suffering. Of all the threats facing Afghanistan, it is hunger which has become the most powerful. Hunger, if left unchecked, will crush hopes for peace for the war-devastated country.

Farhana Faruqi Stocker, the managing director of Afghanaid, says, “The international community, the Afghan authorities and development organizations need to assess why millions of Afghans remain vulnerable to hunger and find long term and sustainable solutions to solve this problem.”

Article first published as Afghanistan Hunger Crisis Deepens, Donors Not Responding on Blogcritics.

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