A significant number of Afghans facing food insecurity

Afghanistan has been facing an economic crisis for over two years, with food insecurity looming day by day. “The situation is deteriorating every day,” Ahmad, a former journalist in Herat, Afghanistan, told me. “I don’t think anyone can afford to buy sufficient food anymore.”

Afghanistan has been facing an economic crisis for over two years, following the reduction of foreign funding by donors in response to the Taliban takeover in 2021. Additionally, Afghanistan’s Central Bank faced sanction from the international system. The Taliban’s violations of women’s rights, particularly in employment, education, and freedom of movement, have worsened the situation. The humanitarian response is insufficient to address the crisis, particularly due to the decrease in levels of humanitarian aid since 2023 in response to the Taliban’s actions.

According to the United Nations, in 2024, 23.7 million people – over half of the country’s population – will require humanitarian assistance because of food insecurity. The statistics are alarming. 69 percent of the population does not have enough food. 67 percent struggle to access water, exacerbated by a prolonged drought attributed to climate change. The economy has contracted by 27 percent, and only 40 percent of the population has access to electricity. Additionally, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.

Women are disproportionately affected by the crisis. Alia, who used to work at a beauty salon in Kabul before the Taliban ordered their closure, told me: “After losing my job, I have no other means to afford my daily expenses. It’s evident that women in Afghanistan are suffering the most, losing their rights and means to survive.”

The UN has requested $3 billion in its 2024 humanitarian response plan for Afghanistan to address the growing crisis. Unfortunately, they have received less than 3 percent of the required funds.

Donors must increase their response to the appeal, but aid alone will not suffice. Governments should support measures to normalize payments and other transactions through Afghanistan’s banking system. The should also restore public services such as water management, electricity, and agriculture, and enhance climate adaptation.

Furthermore, they must work together in a coordinated and unified manner to ensure that the Taliban are held accountable for their ongoing violations of the rights of women and girls.