Food and job insecurity are now the primary causes of concern for families in Afghanistan, Anthea Webb, deputy regional director for the World Food Program (WFP), told a UN press briefing. With winter setting in and the economy on the verge of collapsing, their worries are also growing, she said via a conference call on Friday.
Quoting from the latest survey of the WFP, she said that 93 per cent of households in Afghanistan have no sufficient access to food now, reports Xinhua news agency.
The randomised phone survey, carried out from August 21 to September 5 in all provinces in the country, revealed that three in four Afghan families have been reducing portions or borrowing food.
"They are buying cheaper food, foregoing more nutritious options such as meat, dairy products and vegetables. Parents are skipping meals entirely to allow their children to eat," Webb said.
She added that food insecurity in Afghanistan had already been widespread before August 15, with 81 per cent of households reporting insufficient food consumption, with one in three Afghans signalling acute food insecurity.
"It is now a race against time to deliver lifesaving assistance to the Afghan people before roads are cut off by snow," the UN official said.
She told reporters that the main reason the situation had gotten so much worse over the past month was that many Afghans did not have access to the money they needed to buy enough food.
Afghanistan has also witnessed drought this year, which led to a 40 per cent decline in domestic food production.
It has caused food prices to skyrocket.
Wheat prices have gone up by 25 per cent while many essential ration items have to be imported and purchased at higher rates.
Presently in Afghanistan, half of the population, 18 million people, need humanitarian assistance to survive.
A third do not know where their next meal is coming from. More than half of all children under 5 are at risk of acute malnutrition.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has announced that he will travel to Geneva on September 13 to convene a high-level humanitarian meeting to address the growing needs in Afghanistan.
(With IANS inputs)