While many countries across the world experience a decline in positive cases of COVID-19, on 16th June 2021, Afghanistan experienced the highest number of new cases recorded in a day since the spread of the virus - the actual figure is likely to be even higher due to underreporting. The World Health Organisation reports that over 1,800 deaths were caused by COVID-19 in Afghanistan in June. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that many of those hospitalised for COVID-19 have a history of recently returning from India or coming in contact with people who have, confirming assumptions that the variant originating there is spreading rapidly in Afghanistan. Aside from the impact of the virus itself, the secondary effects of the pandemic are continuing to hit communities who were already struggling to get by.

Vaccinations in Afghanistan

In addition to the 968,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine received in Afghanistan from the COVAX facility and the government of India, Afghanistan received a further 700,000 from the government of China on 10th June. So far, over 673,000 people have been vaccinated in Afghanistan, but internally displaced families, returnees and rural communities remain difficult to reach with the vaccine and formal healthcare more broadly, and the recovery process looks set to be slow.

A man wearing a navy blue top, black medical face mask and a white turban with a fine black grid print is pictured facing another man wearing a white turban and black and white medical face mask. The second man is wearing a white plastic glove on his

UNICEF in Afghanistan

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have so far provided Afghanistan with 3,750 oxygenators since the outbreak of COVID-19. On receiving 10 oxygen plants on 10th June, UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan to install them in hospitals across the country.

COVID-19 and food insecurity

A woman called Sabza is pictured wearing a navy scarf wrapped around her head like a hijab, and a blue jacket. Under the jacket she is wearing a blue tunic with an abstract cream print which she is holding up to create a basket for some red tomatoes. Sabza is half-smiling at the camera against a background of green vegetation and trees.COVID-19 has had grave consequences for people’s health and income in Afghanistan. Millions of people have been forced to choose between exposing themselves to the virus or going without the income needed to put food on the table. The pandemic has also resulted in a huge reduction of local job opportunities, putting increasing financial stress on families across the country. Meanwhile, lockdowns and movement restrictions have disrupted food supply chains, driving a steep rise in food prices and basic essentials. Recent analysis by Integrated Phase Classification (​IPC) estimates that at least 12.2 million people, almost a third of Afghanistan's population are now in crisis levels of food insecurity.

With levels similar to those seen during the 2018 drought, the country now has the second highest number of people in either crisis or emergency food insecurity in the world, and close to one in two children under the age of five are predicted to face acute malnutrition this year. 

What is Afghanaid doing to help?

At the start of the pandemic, we rapidly adapted our work, and procured PPE for our teams, so that we could begin delivering life-saving emergency support to the most at-risk families.

Since then we've worked with communities across the country, including some of the most remote and hard-to-reach villages, to give men, women and children access to:

  • information and advice about COVID-19, hygiene and social distancing;
  • emergency food supplies;
  • hand washing stations;
  • complete family hygiene kits;
  • protective equipment;
  • safe work opportunities;
  • and long-term support.

This year we're continuing our work to tackle rising food insecurity in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP). We're supporting rural communities with the training, tools and seeds they need to produce more from both their land and livestock, so that they can make it through this difficult time and build their resilience to future crises. In a country also dealing with climate change, flash floods and extreme droughts, this work is more important than ever.

Tora, 45-year-old husband and father of five children (pictured below), received six bags of wheat flour through our work with WFP.

A man called Tora is pictured wearing a a peach-coloured tunic with matching trousers, a brown puffer jacket, black beanie hat and black wellington boots. He is smiling at the camera holding one end of a white sack of wheat seed whilst another man holds the other end. In the background there are dozens of the white sacks stacked on top of each other.

Thanks to this support, I no longer need to worry. I know my life will be better and I will be able to make sure my children get an education, so their lives will be better.

What can you do?

We need your help to tackle rising food insecurity in Afghanistan. Better crops make for more nutritious food so men and women can keep their families healthy and earn a stable income for a happier, more prosperous future. Donate today to help us #PlantForProsperity:

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Read our earlier update on COVID-19 in Afghanistan.