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Afghanistan: Over 11 million people acutely food insecure due to COVID-19, high food prices, reduced income and conflict

  • Between August and October 2020, corresponding to the post-harvest season, it is estimated that a total of 11.15 million people (36% of the analysed population) were facing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) and require urgent humanitarian action. This included around 7.54 million people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 3.6 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Around 11.34 million people were also in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and require livelihood support.
  • Between November 2020 and March 2021, corresponding to the lean season, around 13.15 million people (42% of the total population) are likely to experience high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), out of which an estimated 8.85 million people will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and nearly 4.3 million people will likely be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Furthermore, around 10.6 million people are expected to be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Actions Needed

Response priorities:


  • Integrated and coordinated actions are required to contain high rates of asset depletion and food consumption gaps through food and livelihoods assistance for the populations classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The modality (cash or in-kind) of the humanitarian assistance should be considered based on proper market analysis as prices of food commodities are significantly high in hotspot areas.
  • Livelihood assets creation programmes should be considered where possible while providing cash or in-kind assistance to construct, protect and rehabilitate livelihoods infrastructure for agriculture and livestock, such as tube-wells, water channels and reservoirs for better conservation and management.
  • Food assistance should be prioritised in urban areas, especially for those relying on daily wage labour and unsustainable sources of income. Humanitarian agencies should follow government guidelines and international practices during distribution in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Rural farmers will not be able to get labour opportunities, especially small and medium farmers, therefore, they may consume all of their harvest during this challenging lockdown period. Timely provision of quality seeds will help farmers not only cultivate, but also increase production for household consumption.
  • Crop pests & disease monitoring and control should continue, to avoid losses.
  • Introduce livelihood diversification programmes for the people facing Crisis and Emergency levels of acute food insecurity, especially women-headed households and people with disabilities. Livestock support, poultry and kitchen gardening are potential activities to enhance the food security, nutrition and income of vulnerable communities.
  • Considering the regular occurrence of environmental shocks, stakeholders should also focus their attention and funding on programmes to build resilience to disasters and reduce disaster risks. Floods in Afghanistan are causing more and more damage to the lives and livelihoods of the populations living in vulnerable areas.
  • To break the continued cycle of food insecurity and high rates of populations in IPC Phases 3 and 4, joint integrated programmes with nutrition, health and WASH clusters need to be designed and implemented. The complex context of Afghanistan, including ethnically diverse people, rugged terrain and unrelenting civil unrest, needs to be considered when developing strategies for food and livelihood security programming.
  • Considering the low resilience of people, high levels of vulnerability to shocks and the chronic nature of food insecurity, close between development programmes and those of the humanitarian community is needed to tackle the root cause of food insecurity and enhance population resilience and livelihood means.



IPC Classification Maps

Current August - October 2020

Projected November 2020 - March 2021




The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is an innovative tool for improving food security analysis and decision-making. By providing a set of analytical tools and procedures, IPC allows governments and partners to work together to classify the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition according to scientific international standards.

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