6 million Afghans need food relief because of drought and pests, UN report finds

16 September 2004

More than six million Afghans will need food relief or other assistance over the next year because persistent drought in some areas and pests and diseases in others have caused crop failures across the country, a report by two United Nations agencies has found.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), based on a joint mission to affected areas in July, also said the rising prices of some basic crops such as wheat place them out of reach of the poorest Afghans.

In the south, west and southwest regions of the country, more than half the crops have failed because of drought, while in areas north of the Hindu Kush mountains, pests and diseases – and, in some cases, flash floods – have led to low harvests.

The agencies estimate that 6.3 million Afghans will not be able to cover their basic food needs in the year ahead.

WFP Country Director Susana Rico said that in some parts of Afghanistan crops have failed entirely. Cereals are among the worst affected, with overall production down by 43 per cent to just over 3 million tons.

“As we enter the lean season, this dramatic setback will cause food insecurity to rise sharply, and consequently, the need for assistance to grow,” she said.

The report from FAO and WFP follows earlier requests from the Afghan Government for emergency assistance. Earlier this month Afghan authorities and the UN appealed for $71 million to cover relief needs for the next six months.


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