With shortfall in donations, food aid to Afghanistan under threat, WFP warns
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that it might have to stop or slow down several projects in Afghanistan if donors did not provide more support for a new $285 million operation to assist millions of Afghans until the end of the year.
Under this new operation, which began Monday, the focus will gradually shift from providing Afghans with emergency relief to short-term rehabilitation and recovery efforts, with particular emphasis on the education, health and agricultural sectors. The project will require an estimated 544,000 tons of food, but so far, WFP said it has received only $63.9 million – almost all from the United States – or about 22 per cent of the required resources.
“The support we have received so far will only be enough to help our beneficiaries for a couple of months,” WFP Afghanistan Country Director Burkard Oberle said. “There is a lot of goodwill out there but we need it translated into cash and food. We cannot afford to lose more time.”
The agency said that even including remaining funds from previous operations in the country, only 37 per cent of the total resources needed would available; at least 50 per cent is needed now in order to help almost nine million people who would require food aid each month before the harvest in July.
Since the beginning of October, WFP has sent more than 370,000 tons of food to six million impoverished Afghans who are dependent on food aid.
Apart from dealing with the immediate emergency, WFP is working with the Interim Administration to support rapid impact programmes to rebuild parts of the country’s basic infrastructure to rehabilitate irrigation systems and reconstruct schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.
The operation is intended to help Afghans displaced within the country to go back to their villages in time to plant their crops. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighbouring countries who are coming back to rebuild their shattered lives will also be assisted.