Critical shortfall of funds threatens humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan

KABUL (Agencies): The World Food Program (WFP) has cut assistance to eight million food-insecure Afghans due to critical funding shortfalls.
The UN said in a statement this week that in addition to the eight million people, 1.4 million new and expecting mothers, toddlers and preschoolers are also no longer receiving foods designed to prevent malnutrition. From July onwards, only five million people will receive emergency food assistance when 15 million people in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) 3 and 4 do not know where their next meal will come from, the statement read.
In addition, ration sizes have been reduced and those families in IPC 4 areas now receive one-third less assistance than before. If no new funding is received, emergency food assistance by WFP will shrink to nothing by the end of October, the agency warned.
WFP nutrition partners also reported that due to funding shortfalls, 25 mobile health and nutrition teams in four provinces have been shut down. The affected provinces include Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar. The closure of these teams means that more than 100,000 people will not have access to basic health and nutrition care services across the Eastern region. By June this year, only nine percent of the $4.6 billion required for Afghanistan’s initial Humanitarian Response Plan had been received. In addition, 90 percent of the expenditure in the first five months of the year, that is approximately $850 million, relied on carryover funds from 2022. Despite a revision of the initial humanitarian appeal for 2023, the response plan remains currently only 14 percent funded.
The UN said funding levels will also affect the health sector, and an estimated 7.6 million people will lack access to essential life-saving health assistance if funding levels remain the same.
“More than 31,500 households with severely malnourished children have already missed out on critical integrated cash packages for nutrition due to underfunding,” the UN said. The education sector also faces potential discontinuation of approximately 2,800 community-based classes, impacting 83,000 children, 59 percent of whom are girls, who have only gained access to education in the past year after the Taliban took over.
The UN pointed out that the end of the year will bring further challenges with its harsh winter, which many cannot survive without assistance including warm clothing and blankets, essential medical treatment and food aid. “Timely funding is crucial to enable aid agencies to procure and deliver core supplies, address border delays and market disruptions, and preposition relief items in highly affected areas. The Inter-Cluster Coordination Team is embarking on a critical funding gaps analysis which will be ready by the end of July,” the UN stated.