When the Western governments deserted Afghanistan, they left behind many problems for the Taliban to cope with. Hit by one of its worst droughts in decades and torn by years of war, Afghanistan was already facing a hunger emergency; but the Taliban takeover in August threw the country into crisis. Many development agencies pulled out and international sanctions cut off billions in finances for the government, collapsing the economy.
In Afghanistan, 1.1 million children under the age of 5 will likely face the most severe form of malnutrition this year, according to the UN, as increasing numbers of hungry, wasting-away children are brought into hospital wards. That is nearly double the number in 2018 and up from just under 1 million last year. Severe wasting is the most lethal type of malnutrition, in which food is so lacking that a child’s immune system is compromised, according to Unicef. They become vulnerable to multiple bouts of disease and eventually they become so weak they can’t absorb nutrients.
Poverty is spiralling and making more Afghans in need of aid. Millions are struggling to afford food for their families. By the end of last year, half the population of around 38 million lived under the poverty line, according to UN figures. As the economy continues to crumble and prices mount, that could rise this year to as high as 97 per cent of the population by mid-2022, according to the UN Development Program.
The proportion of the population receiving food aid could plummet to only 8% over the next six months because so far only $601 million of the $4.4 billion needed has been received from the world community.