Coming Together for Afghanistan: The Critical Need for the Afghanistan Food Security Program

Coming Together for Afghanistan: The Critical Need for the Afghanistan Food Security Program
08 May 2023

Imagine waking up every day not knowing whether you can feed your family. This is the grim reality for millions of people in Afghanistan, a country facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history. With nearly 22.8 million people, or 55% of the population, facing acute food insecurity due to prolonged drought, conflict, and economic collapse, the need for help is more urgent than ever. The Afghanistan Food Security Program (AFSP) is a lifeline for those struggling to survive.

Launched during the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on the “Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan” held on December 19, 2021, in Islamabad, Pakistan, the AFSP is an initiative led by the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS). Its mission is to provide immediate relief and long-term solutions to the country’s food crisis.

So, why is this program so crucial for Afghanistan, the wider region, and Europe as a whole? The truth is a stable and secure Afghanistan is essential for the peace and prosperity of the world. When people are hungry and desperate, the risk of conflict and instability increases, affecting everyone. Additionally, food shortages can lead to mass migration, putting pressure on neighbouring countries and beyond.

The AFSP is designed to address the immediate needs of the Afghan people while working towards sustainable long-term solutions. It’s a three-pronged approach, with immediate response actions (1-6 months), mid-term actions (up to 2 years), and long-term actions (3-10 years). The IOFS has already launched four projects to provide urgent humanitarian relief.

Supply of Wheat Flour to Afghanistan: This project aims to provide essential wheat flour, prioritizing vulnerable populations. Distribution is carried out through a partnership between the IOFS-ICIC Afghanistan Humanitarian Operation Partnership Center (AHOPEC), the OIC Mission in Kabul, and the Embassies of Kazakhstan and donor countries.

IOFS-ICIC Partnership for Afghanistan Emergency Food Support: This initiative targets 300,000 people (or 50,000 families) with early response food packages. In the long term, it aims to reach millions more, including displaced people, the unemployed, children at risk of malnutrition, and vulnerable groups like widows, orphans, and the elderly.

Agricultural Machinery for Small Farmers: As imports have dwindled and cereal and flour production plummeted, Afghanistan’s farmers need support to produce food sustainably. This project creates model farms and encourages the establishment of cooperatives, providing a long-term solution for food security.

Drinking Water Cleaning for Rural Areas: Access to safe, clean water is vital for health and agriculture. The IOFS is working with Bondh E Shams, a global charity, to provide innovative solar-powered water extraction and filtration systems to water-scarce villages, benefiting thousands of people daily.

The IOFS has tirelessly advocated for the AFSP, meeting with government officials and humanitarian entities in various countries to secure funding and support. The organization is also actively working on the ground in Afghanistan, implementing projects like the Oasis Water Cleaning Boxes and delivering food convoys with essential supplies.

But there is still so much more to be done. The IOFS is calling on OIC Member States, international organizations, UN Funds and Programmes, and the business community to collaborate and provide much-needed assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Your support, whether financial or in the form of resources and expertise, can make a world of difference for those struggling to survive.

Mr Yerlan Baidaulet, Director General of the Islamic Organization for Food Security, said; ‚We welcome the active involvement of OIC member States in providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. For example, in September 2021, Uzbekistan provided 1,300 tonnes of humanitarian aid, followed by Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan sent 5,000 tonnes of wheat flour worth $2.5 million in October. Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates and many other Muslim countries have delivered food and other necessary aid to the de facto administration of Afghanistan.‘

The Afghanistan Food Security Program is not just about providing food; it’s about giving hope to a nation in crisis. By working together and supporting this vital initiative, we can help create a brighter future for millions of Afghans.

The impact of the AFSP goes beyond the borders of Afghanistan. A stable and food-secure Afghanistan contribute to the entire region’s peace and stability, preventing further conflict and reducing the burden on neighbouring countries that may be struggling with their own challenges. Moreover, ensuring food security and stability in Afghanistan can help alleviate the migration pressures on Europe, as desperate individuals and families will be less likely to embark on perilous journeys to seek refuge and sustenance elsewhere.

Yerlan Baidaulet said: “Afghanistan is a permanent member of the Food Security Organization and all member states are committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan in these difficult times and will work under one roof of the Emergency Response Programme and increase humanitarian assistance from donor countries.” Pointing to the food crisis in Afghanistan, he said Kazakhstan intends to increase wheat exports to Afghanistan to previous levels

Through continued collaboration and support from the international community, the Afghanistan Food Security Program can make a significant difference in the lives of countless individuals. By addressing the immediate needs of the Afghan people and working towards long-term solutions, the AFSP can help create an environment where people can survive and thrive.

This is a call to action for everyone: OIC Member States, international donors, UN Funds and Programmes, and other global actors. The time to act is now. By joining forces and supporting the Afghanistan Food Security Program, we can make a lasting impact in the lives of those who need it most, fostering hope and stability in a region that has seen far too much hardship.

Together, we can help rebuild a food-secure and prosperous Afghanistan, demonstrating the power of unity, compassion, and determination in the face of adversity. Let’s stand with the people of Afghanistan and ensure they have the resources and support they need to overcome this daunting crisis. Because when we come together to help those in need, we create a better world for all.

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