Humanitarian assistance averted a catastrophe in the harsh winter months – but hunger continues across the country at unprecedented levels.
KABUL – 19.7 million people, almost half of Afghanistan’s population, are facing acute hunger according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in January and February 2022 by Food Security and Agriculture Cluster partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and many NGOs.
The report predicts that the outlook for June-November 2022 sees a slight improvement in the food security situation, with a reduction in the number of people facing acute food insecurity to 18.9 million people. This is due in part to the coming wheat harvest from May to August and this year’s well-coordinated scale-up of humanitarian food assistance – alongside increased agricultural livelihood support. However, the report warmed that gains will be limited. Lingering drought and the deep economic crisis mean unprecedented hunger will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across Afghanistan.
Of particular concern – and for the first time since the introduction of the IPC in Afghanistan in 2011 – a small pocket of “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 5) has been detected in the country. More than 20,000 people in the northeastern province of Ghor are facing catastrophic levels of hunger because of a long period of harsh winter and disastrous agricultural conditions.
“Unprecedented levels of humanitarian assistance focused on bolstering food security have made a difference. But the food security situation is dire. Humanitarian assistance remains desperately important, as do the needs to rebuild shattered agricultural livelihoods and re-connect farmers and rural communities to struggling rural and urban markets across the country. Unless these happen, there will be no way out of this crisis,” said Richard Trenchard, FAO representative in Afghanistan.
“Food assistance and emergency livelihood support are the lifeline for the people of Afghanistan. We mounted the world’s largest humanitarian food operation in a matter of months, reaching more than 16 million people since August 2021,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the U.N. World Food Programme’s country director and representative in Afghanistan.
“We are working with farmers, millers, and bakeries, training women and creating jobs to support the local economy. Because the people of Afghanistan would much prefer jobs, women want to be able to work, and all girls deserve to go to school. Allowing the economy to function normally is the surest way out of the crisis, otherwise suffering will grow where crops cannot,” she added.
The upcoming harvest will bring some relief to millions of families struggling with income losses and food shortages. However, for many, the harvest will only offer short-term relief and very little opportunity for recovery. The war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on Afghanistan’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs and fuel prices. Access to seeds, fertilizer and water for irrigation is limited, labor opportunities are scarce and enormous debts have been incurred to buy food over the last few months.
Both FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme continue to scale up their programs across the country. The U.N. World Food Programme has reached more than 16 million people so far in 2022 with emergency food assistance and is supporting local markets – working with retailers and local suppliers. The U.N. World Food Programme continues to invest in people’s livelihoods through skills training and climate adaption projects so that families can cultivate their land and grow their own food.
FAO continues to scale up its assistance to farmers and herders in rural areas and will assist more than 9 million people in 2022 through a range of interventions supporting crop, livestock and vegetable production, cash transfers, and the rehabilitation of vital irrigation infrastructure and systems.
Supporting agriculture is a cost-effective and strategic intervention that delivers great short-term impact as lifesaving support, while paving the way for longer-term recovery and sustainable development.
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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
ROME: Four United Nations agencies today announced the forthcoming launch of a new phase of a joint program that aims to secure rural women’s livelihoods, rights and resilience to advance sustainable development.
The “Joint Programme: Accelerating Progress Towards Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment” (JP RWEE) is a partnership between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality, UN Women, and the three Rome-based agencies: the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The program which began in 2014 seeks to expand its funding base and further scale up to additional countries.
This new five-year phase of the programme will initially focus on Nepal, Niger, the Pacific Islands, Tanzania and Tunisia, thanks to the generous support of Norway and Sweden who have committed approximately $25 million towards the program.
“This partnership builds on previous success and demonstrates the impact of combining expertise to achieve significant results for rural women. These results include increased agricultural productivity, economic autonomy and leadership roles. We are grateful to Norway and Sweden for the opportunity to scale up the program in both existing and new countries, keeping the rights and needs of rural women firmly at the center,” said Sima Bahous, UN Women executive director.
Rural women face structural barriers including discriminatory policies, legislation and social norms which hinder their access to services, resources and opportunities. They carry the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work and are often excluded from participation and leadership in rural public life.
“This program with its holistic approach is a great vehicle to improve rural women’s livelihoods. Lessons learned from the first phase show that it is crucial to secure funding from the onset of the program and we encourage other donors to join us in this important effort to empower rural women,” said Astrid T. Tveteraas, head of section for food, Department for Climate and Environment, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
“This program has shown that rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. Sweden is pleased to support the second phase in new countries. Equally, Sweden is eager to support approaches and lessons from the program that can push the overall global development of women’s economic empowerment further,” said Lotta Sylwander, lead policy specialist gender, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
The program builds on the comparative advantages and strengths of FAO, IFAD, UN Women and the U.N. World Food Programme to address the multi-faceted dimensions of rural women’s economic empowerment, which includes access to opportunities, resources and services including land, credit and technology. The program works with national governments to advance policy change, with local governments to ensure policy implementation, and with local communities and households to tackle unequal power dynamics and discriminatory social norms in order to achieve deep rooted and lasting change.
The first phase of the program was implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda from 2014 to 2021 and reached approximately 80,000 rural women. The participants achieved, on average, an 82% increase in agricultural production, generated over $3,600,000 from on-farm and off-farm sales and almost $2 million through savings and loan schemes. Program results also showed greater economic autonomy for rural women, more gender equitable household relations and increased numbers of women in leadership positions.
The new phase of the Programme will be formally launched at a side event during the 66th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on March 23rd, 2022.
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ROME – As climate extremes become more frequent and intense, women and girls – who are at a higher risk than men and boys of experiencing the devastating effects of the climate crisis – including hunger, need to be front and center when planning and implementing climate change adaptation solutions, said three United Nations’ food agencies at their joint International Women’s Day event today.
Organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the event recognized the contribution of women and girls around the world who play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. It also highlighted the need for women’s meaningful participation in decision-making processes related to climate resilience and adaptation.
Women and girls’ disproportionate dependence on climate-sensitive work like farming as well as their limited access to economic and production resources increase their susceptibility to the devastating impacts of cyclones, floods and droughts, which in turn impacts their livelihoods and food security.
Globally, 80% of the people displaced due to climate-related disasters are women. When homes are destroyed by climatic shocks, such as hurricanes, cyclones and earthquakes, women and girls are forced to flee to displacement camps where they are often exposed to increased violence.
“To have any meaningful and long-lasting impact, women and girls cannot be left out – they must be at the center of solutions and at the table designing those solutions,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy director-general and chair of the FAO Women’s Committee at the closing of the event.
FAO supports countries to develop gender-responsive climate policies and actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock. A specially designed program aims to strengthen women’s leadership and negotiation skills so they can become climate change negotiators. FAO also promotes parliamentary actions for targeted gender-budgeting and investments in agri-food systems in the context of climate change and COVID-19 response. It also assists members to adopt gender-responsive good practices to support climate-smart agriculture and is a leading implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund.
“The 1.7 billion women and girls living in the world’s rural areas are far more likely to be affected by climate shocks and conflicts – by an order of magnitude. Yet they are the ones that disproportionately contribute to the long-term resilience of our communities, nutrition and livelihoods. IFAD is working with rural women to strengthen adaptation to climate change in rural areas and preserve the natural resources on which we all rely,” said Dr. Jyotsna Puri, IFAD associate vice president. “With the right type of investments and recognition, they can help build a better future for all of us.”
Through its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), IFAD prioritizes women’s empowerment. It promotes women’s participation in community planning and decision-making on adaptation and ensures women access trainings and equipment such as drip irrigation and solar pumps. In Gambia, for example, through access to suitable water management systems and trainings in soil fertilization and transplanting, women have diversified and increased food production, earned higher incomes and have strengthened their community’s resilience to climate change.
“Vulnerable communities including women and girls on the frontlines of the climate crisis need urgent support to adapt and build resilience,” said U.N. World Food Programme Assistant Executive Director Valerie Guarnieri. “The U.N. World Food Programme provides climate solutions that empower women with access to early warning information and forecast-based financing before a disaster strikes and trains women on climate resilient agricultural practices.”
In Guatemala, where frequent and intense droughts, as well as excessive rains, severe flooding and landslides have led to chronic hunger in recent years, the U.N. World Food Programme has launched parametric insurance that offers women small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs coverage against droughts and excess rain to protect their livelihoods in the event of a climatic shock. The insurance guarantees pay-outs of up to $300 and ensures that they are able to meet their basic needs even in the face of a disaster. The project targets indigenous women in the community, recognizing their particular vulnerabilities.
Women have been severely underrepresented in important decision-making processes regarding climate change solutions. The lack of fair representation of women in climate change adaptation frameworks results in the creation of solutions that do not accurately respond to the different needs of the diverse groups of people affected by the threats of climate change.
Empowering women to ensure their full participation in climate change adaptation decisions and frameworks is crucial for achieving a more sustainable world.
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