More people in Afghanistan going hungry: World Bank


The number of people in Afghanistan who cannot afford food and other essentials has doubled since August 2021 as unemployment rises and wages fall, a World Bank survey showed on Tuesday.

The Afghanistan Welfare Survey, conducted by phone and covering the October-December 2021 period, found that 70 percent of respondents said their households were unable to cover basic food and non-food needs, up from 35 percent in May 2021.

The share of Afghan households switching to lower-quality or less expensive food rose to 85 percent from 56 percent in the July-August 2021 period, it found. Nearly half of households also reported a decline in the number of meals consumed each day, up from around a quarter in July-August 2021.

The World Bank attributed the sharp increase in poverty to overall economic conditions rather than to “specific actions introduced by the interim administration,” citing in particular a decline in public sector jobs.

The Taliban authorities still lack international recognition seven months after overrunning Kabul as the last US-led international troops departed, ending 20 years of war.

Donors cut financial aid constituting more than 70 percent of government expenditures and about $9 billion in Afghan central bank assets were frozen. Many Taliban leaders remain under US and UN sanctions.

The UN has previously warned that more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people face starvation.

The World Bank study found about a fifth of household heads were looking for work in the October-December 2021 period, up from 8 percent during the same period of 2019, largely due to a decline in jobs in the army, police and other security services.

Despite Western concerns that the Taliban would roll back women’s rights, the survey said that nationwide, school attendance among both boys and girls aged 6-18 had risen in October-December 2021 compared to the same period of 2019.

The share of households sending boys to school increased to 73 percent from 63 percent, while those sending girls rose to 54 percent from 44 percent.


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