For two years, the people of Afghanistan have been grappling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. More than 90 percent of the population are living in poverty and reliance on humanitarian aid has increased by 60 percent compared to 2021. The socioeconomic crisis is amplified by climate-aggravated natural disasters and extreme weather, threatening what livelihoods are left. Every day, Afghans demonstrate their unrelenting resilience as they struggle to earn an income and feed their families.
Whilst humanitarian support remains critical – 28 million of Afghanistan’s 35 million residents are in immediate humanitarian need – it is by nature a short-term fix. In September last year, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) formed a new partnership with the UK Government, building on a long history of supporting the people of Afghanistan. The 15-month programme aims to help Afghans move beyond immediate humanitarian relief towards enabling communities to rebuild.
The £10.2 million programme is operating across nine provinces and since September 2022 has reached nearly 300,000 people. Through the partnership, AKF is addressing various critical areas of concern – agriculture and food security, livelihoods and economic inclusion, and health care. The programme is also working to improve the quality and accessibility of education for children and young people.
Boosting agriculture and food security
In Afghanistan’s rural regions, agricultural livelihoods are under threat. The relentless cycle of droughts and natural disasters is being exacerbated by inflated food prices, and for rural communities, the reality of hunger is stark. In response, AKF has been supporting 15,000 smallholder farmers in the production of wheat and vegetables.
Ghani Bai lives in a village in Baghlan province where around 300 households depend on agriculture to survive. Recurring droughts and the high cost of certified seeds have stifled Ghani Bai’s community’s farming efforts, which now yield meagre harvests from once fertile lands. AKF provided Ghani Bai with quality seeds and fertilisers. He says “I have sowed my land and now my plots are ready to harvest. I will earn enough from selling fresh vegetables to support my family and supply for the next season.”