Over 10 million Afghans suffer acute food insecurity: UN report
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UNITED NATIONS: Some 10.23 million people in strife-torn Afghanistan suffer “severe acute food insecurity” and around one-third of the Afghan population required urgent humanitarian action from August to October, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) alert. The IPC, a coalition of United Nations agencies and other partners, classified food insecurity in five distinct phases from phase 1 (minimal/none) to phase 5 (catastrophic/famine). The latest IPC report said around 2.44 million Afghan are believed to be in an Emergency situation (phase 4), and 7.79 million in a Crisis situation (phase 3). It estimated that the situation is likely to get worse heading into next year, with the numbers of those experiencing severe acute food insecurity set to rise to 11.29 million between November 2019 and March 2020. A lack of opportunity in the labor market could, said the report, impact the livelihoods of vulnerable groups, as could the uncertain political climate and security situation, food prices and extreme weather events. The report includes several recommendations to alleviate the food insecurity problems faced by the population. Providing humanitarian food assistance, in cash or kind, is one such proposal, as well as helping farmers to obtain quality seeds for the forthcoming season. The IPC urged partners to consider the complex context of Afghanistan’s ethnic make-up, rugged terrain and “unrelenting civil unrest” when developing strategies for improving food security and livelihoods. The report also called for the impact of the changing climate to be addressed, with attention focused on programs that build resilience to disasters, and the reduction of disaster risks, adding that water irrigation systems should be improved and strengthened. The IPC brings together the United Nations bodies of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as well as several NGOs and inter-governmental organizations, to produce internationally-recognized scientific assessments of food insecurity and malnutrition levels in countries.