As we draw close to 2 years since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, what is the situation for the people of Afghanistan, and what has Afghanaid been doing to support them? Read an update from our Chairman, Chris Kinder.

"I have just returned from a fortnight travelling in Afghanistan with two fellow trustees, visiting a number of Afghanaid’s extremely impressive programmes and getting a better understanding of conditions inside the country some 20 months after the Taliban takeover. 

"The UN still estimates that 28.3 million men, women and children in Afghanistan are in need of humanitarian support, and that Afghanistan remains the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. In response, over the past two winters, Afghanaid has doubled its headcount and delivered a greater volume of humanitarian assistance than at any other time in our history. This amounts to some 2.3m men, women and children being supported with life-saving aid and emergency livelihoods support through a period of drought and economic collapse. 

Seeing the pace and scale of what Afghanaid teams have been able to deliver over short timeframes was astonishing.

"This sheer level of support that Afghanaid has been providing undoubtedly saved lives and alleviated tremendous hardship. Importantly, Afghanaid has also remained focused on building for the future, such as through cash for work programmes which support the construction of roads, water supply networks, irrigation canals and other infrastructure, and through strengthening rural livelihoods via introducing improved wheat seed and concentrated animal feed as well as kitchen gardening schemes and other vocational programmes for women.  

"We travelled widely in Daykundi, an incredibly beautiful and remote mountainous province in the central highlands. Seeing the pace and scale of what Afghanaid teams have been able to deliver over short timeframes was astonishing, especially in a part of the country where every journey involves hours of travelling on rough mountain roads – some of which only opened up in May after the winter snows – and in districts where improved security has only recently allowed our teams to have access.

"Whilst in Daykundi we also had the opportunity to visit an incredibly large-scale and recently completed 4 year programme rehabilitating watersheds. The community we visited, after a 7 hour cross-country drive, is now starting to see the benefits of extensive terracing, tree planting and other environmental improvements. Previously dry springs are coming back to life, newly planted fodder crops are reaching maturity and 2,500 newly planted almond trees are starting to produce for the first time this year.

"In all our community visits and in meetings with Afghanaid staff we explored the impact of the ban on Afghan women working for NGOs which was introduced on Christmas Eve. Despite organisations like Afghanaid finding community-led solutions to protect female staff and the meaningful of female participants in our programming, there is no doubt that the actions taken by the Taliban authorities to restrict the rights of women and girls are also having an impact on overall funding levels. In January, the UN made its single-largest country aid appeal ever, asking for $4.6 billion in 2023 to deliver assistance in Afghanistan. By May 2023, it was just 5% funded. The UK government has reduced support to Afghanistan by 50% and we expect similar actions from other donor countries.

The hardships that have to be endured, especially by the female population, are beyond anything most of us will ever encounter.

"Against this backdrop there are some positives in the ending of two years of severe drought, much improved security, significantly reduced corruption and an economy that in comparison to last year has stabilised, with inflation falling and the currency holding its own against the US dollar. The country is perceptibly calmer than when I last visited 12 months ago. Notwithstanding these positives, the challenges and the uncertainties continue to be formidable and the hardships that have to be endured, especially by the female population, are beyond anything most of us will ever encounter. I once again encountered a very special Afghan resilience, but this strength of will must continue to be supported. It remains the case that we must not forget Afghanistan and let the world simply look away.

"Please support Afghanaid so our teams can continue to reach families most at risk with the help they need to survive and stay hopeful for a brighter future."

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