Two years since the Taliban regained power, what is the situation in Afghanistan and how has Afghanaid been supporting those who need it most?

The situation

Food insecurity and debt

Following four decades of conflict, sustained poverty, environmental degradation and the Covid pandemic, many Afghan families were already at breaking point. But since the withdrawal of international troops in 2021, the humanitarian crisis has grown even more complex and severe, with economic instability, considerably high food and fuel prices, the slowing of international aid flows and two incredibly harsh consecutive droughts leaving millions in extremely challenging positions.

This has meant that food insecurity has skyrocketed: the United Nations (UN) projects that 15 million people of a population of over 40 million are facing acute levels of food insecurity, with nine in ten families not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Many families have therefore been pushed into extreme debt just to make ends meet.

A man leaving an Afghanaid food distribution centre

Women's rights

Over the past 24 months, Afghan women have faced deepening restrictions on their basic freedoms, such as through bans introduced on university attendance and working for NGOs and the UN. The costs of rollbacks on women’s full participation in public and political life cannot be overstated. Resourceful, resilient women and girls have been central to the survival of their families through the recent humanitarian crisis. Therefore, as the country continues to endure the fallout of economic collapse, a second year of drought and acute food shortages, limiting the ability of women and girls to engage freely in public and political life threatens to push the entire Afghan population into a deeper crisis.

The public sphere for women in Afghanistan was already extremely limited but after the two recent decrees which deprive women from their basic rights to get an education and to work, I see that we are being completely erased from society.

Read the full piece from a female member of staff.

Funding shortages

Due to ongoing uncertainty around how best to engage with the de facto authorities, many international donor bodies have been scaling back the funding they once gave in support of Afghan communities. Some UN bodies have therefore been forced to make substantial cuts to their programming due to these critical funding gaps, essentially meaning that many ordinary men, women and children in crisis may not be able to receive support they so desperately need.

Currently, the UN's 2023 appeal for Afghanistan is just a quarter funded. At $3.23bn, this funding goal is based off of rigorous analysis which quantifies the need for lifesaving assistance in the country.

The climate crisis

A drought-affected community in Ghor province

Amidst multiple protracted crises, communities across Afghanistan have also been increasingly feeling the impacts of the changing climate, with concurrent droughts decimating agricultural production, and increasingly frequent flash flooding washing away homes, livestock and livelihoods. Despite already being on the frontlines of the crisis, Afghan communities are extremely unprepared to deal with the consequences, and require urgent support to become more resilient.

Of the 6.6 million people in Afghanistan who are internally displaced - in other words, have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere in Afghanistan - it is estimated at least a third are displaced due to natural disasters and extreme weather.

Staying and delivering

In the past two years, to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis, Afghanaid has supported over two million people with emergency relief. This has included unconditional cash assistance, food support, providing emergency shelter, and distributing other key household items to keep families safe. As well as helping families to fulfil their basic needs - a crucial first step in helping them rebuild their lives - short-term aid alone is not sufficient to resolve the complex and protracted crises being faced by Afghan communities. This is why we've continued to deliver vital programmes focused on strengthening livelihoods, improving access to basic services, and helping communities adapt to the changing climate.

In these dire humanitarian conditions, our ability to support vulnerable men and women has never been more important, and thanks to the adaptability, ingenuity and leadership of our Afghan-majority team, Afghanaid is continuing to work through operational challenges in a principled manner to ensure families can survive the multiple challenges confronting them and keep working towards more secure and hopeful future.

Despite this, we remain concerned that the enduring decrees around women's rights will, as well as hugely limiting Afghan women's potential, heighten the risk that donor countries will continue to reduce funding for humanitarian and development aid and therefore, in an effort to further financially isolate Afghanistan, punish ordinary people twice over.

Read our Joint Letter in the Guardian

How can you make a difference?

An emergency of this scale is not quickly resolved and requires long-term, holistic support from organisations like Afghanaid. Help us stay and deliver our life-changing work for many years to come by setting up a regular gift today:

Join our monthly giving community

Not in a position to donate? Why not get involved with our brand new 100-mile challenge to stand in solidarity with vulnerable people across Afghanistan. We'd love to have you involved.

Images: Richard Pohle/The Times