UPDATED: 12/02/2021

As the people of Afghanistan struggle through the harsh winter, a second wave of COVID-19 has also gripped the country. Aside from the impact of the virus itself, the secondary effects of the pandemic are continuing to hit communities who had not yet recovered from the first wave. 

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What is the current situation in Afghanistan?

Over 40 years of conflict, recurrent natural disasters, increasing poverty and food insecurity, and now COVID-19, are having a devastating effect on the people of Afghanistan.

Kabul remains the most affected part of the country in terms of confirmed cases however, due to the limited public health resources and testing capacity, as well as the absence of a national death register, confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 are likely to be under-reported in the country.

Hospitals and clinics continue to report challenges maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19, whilst also maintaining essential health services. As the World Health Organisation noted, when health systems like Afghanistan's are overwhelmed, deaths both as a direct result of the outbreak and resulting from other preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically.

The existing challenges faced on a daily basis by these families are being magnified by this new threat, pushing yet more people into extreme poverty, and posing a serious threat to the country’s ability to cope. It is estimated that six times the number of people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, as compared to four years ago. Both the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen the number of people in need almost double in the past year alone.

COVID-19 has had grave consequences for people’s health and income, and the cost of basic essentials has increased dramatically, leaving at least a third of the population faced with food shortages and malnutrition on the rise. Afghanistan now has the second highest number of people in crisis or emergency food insecurity (16.9 million people) and close to one in two children under the age of five are predicted to face acute malnutrition this year.

Concurrently, conflict, natural disasters and extreme have continued to effect and displace thousands across the country, compounding pre-existing issues faced by these families and the communities they settle in, and leaving them more vulnerable to serious consequences from COVID-19. Harsh winter conditions continue to cause suffering for families in inadequate shelter, and millions are struggling to get by amid soaring poverty driven by the economic shock of COVID-19. 

The Government of Afghanistan and the UN have begun preparations for the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine across the country, including the establishment of a dedicated National Technical Working Group (TWG) for COVID-19 response within the MoPH. However, vaccines will come to countries like Afghanistan much later than many others, and there is an urgent and continuing need for support to get communities through the many months they will need to wait.

Afghanaid’s response

Afghanaid has continued to take the necessary precautions to protect our staff and the communities we’re serving. At the start of the pandemic, we rapidly scaled-up our work to deliver life-saving support in response and adapted our existing work.

We procured personal protective equipment for our teams on the ground, so as to ensure we could continue working and provide as much support as possible. This has allowed us to work 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.

We are also addressing the secondary impacts of the pandemic, including working with UNOCHA to help families to prepare for the cold weather, and with the World Food Programme to deliver long-term support to rural families who have been affected by a loss of jobs and disrupted food supply chains.

  

We are continuing to monitor the impacts on vulnerable families, which are exacerbating existing challenges and pushing households into desperate situations. Moving forward, we will continue to work with partners across the country to deliver assistance and support those who need it.

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global pandemic on 11th March 2020 and is continuing to strain health systems worldwide. Afghanaid would like to send a message of solidarity to everyone in Afghanistan and the world over at this difficult time, and wishes everyone well. 

How can you help people in Afghanistan?

Afghanaid is working incredibly hard to protect vulnerable communities in Afghanistan during this novel Coronavirus crisis. During challenging times, donations from our supporters are an absolutely vital resource for Afghanaid, and will help to ensure we can continue to reach those who need it most, and provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable.

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