As winter approaches, millions of Afghans are facing a deepening food and malnutrition crisis.
An escalating humanitarian crisis, severe drought and the Covid-19 pandemic have left nearly 23 million people – more than half the population of Afghanistan – without enough food to eat. Recent fighting and the climate crisis have displaced families to urban centres, including Kabul, and camps where women and girls, older and disabled people are at increased risk of violence, exploitation and extreme poverty.
Sara*, 57, lives in Ghor province where the majority of the population is dependent on farming for their livelihoods. Her family lost 90% of their wheat crop this year due to drought and were forced to sell off their livestock to survive. They left their home village and travelled to the province capital, Firozkoh city, in search of work.
Sara, her daughter-in-law, son and four grandchildren, are staying with relatives. Her son is struggling to find work to support the family. They often go to sleep hungry.
“My family fled our hometown because we did not have enough food to survive there any longer,” Sara said. “I was afraid of the humanitarian crisis which might result in the death of my family members.”
As winter sets in, Sara said her most urgent needs are food, blankets and fuel to heat their home.
“We live in a very bad situation since there is not any means of income, there is no daily wage work in the town. Once or twice a week my son could find work to earn 600-800 AFN (£4.77-£6.36). We buy only bread, but during this cold winter we need warm clothes, blankets and fuel to protect ourselves from the cold,” she said.
ActionAid is providing emergency support to communities in four provinces of Afghanistan including Herat, Kabul, Ghor and Balkh. This week, emergency teams provided cash support and hygiene kits for women and girls, approximately 1,000 families.
In the coming weeks, we are scaling up our response to reach more than 10,000 families with food support and essential items to survive Afghanistan’s harsh winter, including blankets, fuel and heating equipment.
Sara added: “With the support from ActionAid, I can manage to buy flour, oil, basic food and heating items with the cash support from ActionAid. This will prevent my family facing hunger and coldness. The more you support, the more we can survive.”
Qurban, 38, is struggling to support his family, including his wife, sister-in-law and seven children, after they fled to Kabul four months ago to escape rising violence and conflict. He earned a living as a daily wage worker in Bamyan province, but he hasn’t been able to find a job in the capital.
“The recent conflicts in Bamyan threatened my family’s security and livelihood,” Qurban said, explaining he left in search of safety and work to support his large family.
As winter hits, he is worried for his family’s future due to a lack of job opportunities and the soaring cost of essential items such as food and fuel to heat his home.
“I will be able to use the cash support to buy heating materials such as a stove, wood and coal for my family. I would like to appeal to the NGOs to reach out to the vulnerable families and continue the humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan,” Qurban added.
With a biting cold spell and snowfall expected to hit in December, displaced families and host communities face a harsh winter, of rising hunger and struggling to afford fuel to heat their homes.
*This name changed to protect her identity.
Find out how you can help Afghan families prepare for the upcoming winter:
Donate via ActionAid Australia
Donate via ActionAid Ireland
Donate via ActionAid UK