UPDATED: 23/04/2021

While reported numbers remain below those seen during the peak of the first wave, recent reports indicate another deterioration of the situation, suggesting another wave may be on the horizon. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the eastern region of the country in particular has experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks. 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?

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 WHO 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.

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. With levels similar to those seen during the 2018 drought, Afghanistan now has the second highest number of people in 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. It is estimated that six times the number of people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, as compared to four years ago.

Concurrently, conflict, natural disasters and extreme weather 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 first batch of COVID-19 vaccination doses through the COVAX facility arrived in Afghanistan on 8th March, and the country has now received 968,000 doses of the vaccine – 468,000 from the COVAX facility and 500,000 directly from the government of India. However, vaccine rollout will be much slower in countries like Afghanistan than many others, with internally displaced families, returnees and people living in remote areas being particularly difficult to reach, 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, 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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