How donations are helping people in Afghanistan

Ali Hassan

DEC funds have been a lifeline for Ali's family

Ali Hassan* struggles to find work to support his family. DEC charity Islamic Relief provided them with food and essential items to survive the winter months.

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In December 2021, amidst a major economic crisis and the country’s worst drought in 27 years, the DEC launched an appeal to get urgent help to the people of Afghanistan. 

Donations to the appeal have allowed the 13 DEC members who are responding to the crisis to scale up their emergency support, with funds providing emergency cash; life-saving shelter, fuel and blankets to help families survive the harsh Afghan winter; food packages and cash for food; access to healthcare including support for malnourished children; and water, sanitation and hygiene services, for tens of thousands of people.

The economic situation in the country remains devastating, with price rises and food shortages resulting in 95% of the population, and almost all female-headed households, not having enough to eat. 

In the first five months of the response, up to mid-May, DEC charities delivered £7.3 million of aid. Further funds will provide ongoing support to a population struggling to survive.

Here are some of the ways your donations helped people in the first three months of our response.

How funds are being spent

In the first three months of the response, DEC charities and local partners spent just over £3.5 million providing multipurpose cash; shelter and winter survival items; emergency food; healthcare; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene support to families across Afghanistan.

Tap segments to see a breakdown

DEC response in first three months

Emergency multi-purpose cash
Shelter and winter survival items
Cash for food and food packages
Clean water, sanitation and hygiene

Providing emergency cash for high risk families

Experts warn that up to 97% of the Afghan population could be plunged into poverty in 2022. All 34 provinces of Afghanistan have been found to be in severe or critical need, with 82% of families that previously had an income reporting they earned nothing at all in February 2022. Cash assistance gives families the flexibility to buy food, warm clothes or fuel. 

66% of DEC funds in the first three months of the response has been provided directly to high-risk, marginalised and displaced families in the form of multi-purpose cash payments so they can meet their basic needs. A Save the Children survey found that most recipients are using the cash assistance to buy food: representing 82% of emergency cash spending in Kabul, 75% in Kandahar, and 60% in Nangahar and Kunar. 

Helping families survive the winter months

Afghanistan has the third largest internally displaced population in the world, with conflict forcing 700,000 people to leave their homes in the last year alone - bringing the total to over 5 million. 80% of displaced people are women and children. Most live in temporary shelters that leave them dangerously exposed to Afghanistan’s harsh winters, risking illness and death from hypothermia and acute respiratory infections. In December 2021, DEC charity Save the Children found that 8.6 million Afghan children lived in households without enough blankets to go around, and more than 3 million children had inadequate heating to keep them warm. 

In the first three months of the DEC response, 15% of funds has provided households with  cash assistance for shelter, fuel and blankets and delivered shelter and winter items including pressure cookers, gas bottles, torches, plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and rope.

Providing emergency food to help save lives

Over 19 million Afghans face acute food insecurity and over 6 million people are on the brink of famine – the highest number in emergency food insecurity in the world. While these numbers are set to decrease slightly over the next six months thanks to the humanitarian response, the situation remains alarmingly severe. Despite the best efforts of charities responding to the crisis, the conflict in Ukraine has pushed global prices for vital food imports to their highest ever levels. Afghanistan’s own harvest in many regions is predicted to fail yet again this year, so the hunger crisis is set to continue unabated. Prices of staples such as potatoes have trebled between August 2021 and March 2022; and many parents are restricting their own meals so their children can eat. 

11% of DEC funds in the first three months of our response has provided families with either cash for food or food packages of wheat flour, vegetable oil, lentils, salt and rice.

Supporting a devastated healthcare system 

Afghanistan’s healthcare system – already on its knees after decades of conflict and under-investment – is buckling under rising demand fuelled by Covid-19, chronic poverty, and spiking rates of malnutrition. The country has one of the highest rates in the world both of stunting (impaired growth) among children at 36%; and of disability which affects 79% of adults and 17% of children, increasing their health needs, susceptibility to illness and risk of death. Many health facilities have been destroyed and those that do exist are operating with critical gaps in medicine, personnel and equipment, with some healthcare workers having gone unpaid for months. 

In the first three months of the response, 4% of DEC funds has been spent on providing primary and basic health services, including through mobile health units.   

Ensuring access to clean water and hygiene

Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services is often one of the casualties of displacement, with 79% of displaced households reporting insufficient water access. 

In the first three months of the response, 3% of DEC funds has been spent on distributing hygiene kits (e.g. soap, detergent, towels, buckets); promoting hygiene awareness including of Covid-19; and repairing and constructing facilities for safe drinking water.

Treating malnourished children and mothers

4.7 million Afghan children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are at risk of acute malnutrition in 2022, and over one million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

0.08% of DEC funds in the first three months has provided malnutrition screening, treatment and education on nutritional requirements for children under 5 and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Thank you for supporting the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal. With your support, DEC charities have helped many families survive the winter months, but with needs on such a vast scale across all provinces, there is much more that needs to be done.

In Phase 2 of our response, DEC charities will continue to support those most at risk across the country. Please continue to support the appeal and help save lives.