News Alert: Afghanistan Faces 65% Increase in Acute Hunger Since 2021 as Global Food Crisis Deepens

August 11, 2022

One year since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) assumed leadership in Afghanistan, over 20 million people – almost half the population – are facing acute hunger levels, a 65% increase since July 2021.  

Economic stress, compounding ongoing drought, fallout from COVID-19 and grinding conflict has left 95% of Afghans without enough to eat every day.  

After more than four decades of conflict and instability, 59% of Afghans need assistance – an increase of 6 million people compared to the beginning of 2021. If no action is taken, the United Nations predicts that 97% of the population will plunge below the poverty line in 2022. 

Funds pledged to aid tens of millions of Afghans are failing to reach communities in need, due to an almost completely incapacitated banking system. Because of a nationwide shortage of banknotes, Afghans cannot pay for daily expenses and businesses are unable to pay salaries.  

Jack Byrne, Mercy Corps’ Afghanistan Country Director, says: 

“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate by the day. An inconceivable number of Afghans are experiencing acute hunger and our teams are seeing higher levels of poverty than ever before in the communities we support in Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar. Our teams have also seen an increase in teenage marriages, with families marrying away girls as young as 13 so they have one less mouth to feed.” 

“The approaching winter means a strong likelihood of flash flooding due to years of drought, which have eroded fields and crops to dust. There will also be an increased need for essential winter supplies like blankets, fuel lamps, and hygiene products. While most of these items are available locally in shops, people do not have the money to purchase anything other than food and water. The almost total collapse of the economy means no cash in people's pockets. And while there is tremendous effort being made by humanitarian responders to meet immediate needs and help families avert worsening hunger, it will not be enough to rebuild livelihoods and the economy. The international community needs to take deliberate action to restore Afghanistan’s banking system to allow funds to reach those who most need it.” 

Since 1986, Mercy Corps has been working to improve the quality of life for Afghans and support conflict-affected communities. The organization is currently working in the western part of the country to ensure Afghans have access to life-sustaining income, clean water and power, and can pursue productive livelihoods to feed their families.