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Funding Shortfall Threatens Food Assistance To Millions Of Poor Afghans

ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently requires US$257 million to continue providing food and assistance to the 7.3 million vulnerable and food-insecure Afghans it aims to support this year, mainly women and children.

“We are making this appeal to give us the best possible chance of plugging the looming gaps in supply,” said WFP Afghanistan Country Director Louis Imbleau. “Food security is the bedrock of development in this country – especially for the youngest and most vulnerable.”

Though many governments have contributed generously to WFP’s multi-year food assistance operation in Afghanistan, WFP lacks half of what it needs for this year.

Due to the decrease in available funds, a critical pipeline break in wheat is expected to occur in June, affecting millions of Afghans currently being assisted by WFP and partners. Wheat is the primary food staple in Afghanistan and is used in rations for nearly all WFP operations, including food-for-work activities, vocational training and literacy programmes for women and other marginalized groups, and emergency food distributions. Supplies of vegetable oil and pulses will run short in July and August respectively.

Without additional funds, WFP will be forced to scale back school feeding activities by half in June, affecting more than a million schoolchildren.

Shortfalls in specialized nutrition products have also forced WFP to reduce the number of children under five that it can assist – down from 62,000 per month to about 40,000 per month.  Fundamental nutrients are vital during the early years when adequate nutrition is crucial for development.

By August, without swift and robust support from the international community, WFP will have exhausted all remaining commodities and be forced to reduce or suspend some parts of the operation.

In Afghanistan, it takes between 2-3 months from the time a contribution is received until the food reaches the people who need it.  If new contributions cannot be secured soon, food may not be available in time. WFP is appealing to donors for a rapid injection of funds in order to begin procuring food locally and regionally to mitigate this potentially devastating break in food supplies.

WFP has been working continuously in Afghanistan since 1963, and plans to feed some 7.3
million people in all 34 provinces of the country this year.