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Central Afghanistan Facing Food Shortages

Despite improved weather conditions, ACF sounds alarm as drought continues to threaten livelihoods

Despite higher rainfall in 2003 that followed five years of severe drought, the population in the central provinces of Afghanistan is once again threatened by food shortages.

Hazaradjat (northern Uruzgan) and the Ghor province: these extremely isolated and structurally under-developed areas in Central Afghanistan were already severely affected by the consequences of the devastating drought in the country from 1998 until 2003. Despite improved weather conditions and better harvests in 2003, the population is still far from recovering a satisfactory level of food security.

With little snow from the winter and hardly any rain in March and April, the farmland has suffered even further decline. Today, more than 75% of the arable land is not farmed in the most affected areas, such as the Kiti zone in the Dai Kundi district in northern Uruzgan. In contrast to the last few years, where harvests still provided enough food for the population for three or four months of the year, Action Against Hunger'steams are seeing that numerous crops are withering this year.

Despite higher rainfall in 2003 that followed five years of severe drought, the population in the central provinces of Afghanistan is once again threatened by food shortages.

Hazaradjat (northern Uruzgan) and the Ghor province: these extremely isolated and structurally under-developed areas in Central Afghanistan were already severely affected by the consequences of the devastating drought in the country from 1998 until 2003. Despite improved weather conditions and better harvests in 2003, the population is still far from recovering a satisfactory level of food security.

With little snow from the winter and hardly any rain in March and April, the farmland has suffered even further decline. Today, more than 75% of the arable land is not farmed in the most affected areas, such as the Kiti zone in the Dai Kundi district in northern Uruzgan. In contrast to the last few years, where harvests still provided enough food for the population for three or four months of the year, Action Against Hunger's teams are seeing that numerous crops are withering this year.

With households no longer self-sufficient since the beginning of the drought, they have allocated 70% of their budgets to buying food. In order to obtain money, they have built heavy debts, sold off much of their cattle and migrated to other countries or major cities in Afghanistan. However, these methods for raising cash appear to be reaching their limits. Loans are becoming more and more difficult to obtain and the population have sold nearly 75% of their cattle.

Action Against Hunger is seriously concerned for the population in these areas, already very badly affected, that they might not be able to meet their own nutritional needs without any external assistance. Action Against Hunger's food aid department is currently carrying out an evaluation mission in the provinces of central Afghanistan. The department once again emphasizes that very few humanitarian organizations are present there today; conditions for access and intervention are extremely difficult in the isolated areas with populations are scattered.

Action Against Hunger has been working in Hazaradjat (northern Uruzgan) and in the Ghor province since 1998 and 2001 respectively.

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