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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Watch Ali Hassan's story - Afghanistan on YouTube.

In December 2021, the DEC launched the Afghanistan Crisis Appeal as conflict, economic collapse, the country’s worst drought in 27 years and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic left more than eight million people on the brink of famine. Afghanistan was one of the countries already being supported through our Coronavirus Appeal but as the scale of the hunger crisis escalated, there was an urgent need scale up the humanitarian response.

The Afghanistan Crisis Appeal has now raised £50 million, including £10 million in aid match from the UK Government. 13 DEC charities responded to the crisis and scaled up their emergency support to groups disproportionately affected including women, children, older people and those with disabilities.

In the first six months of the response, DEC charities have provided:

  • Over 243,000 people with cash assistance, giving them flexibility to buy essentials like food, warm clothes or fuel
  • Over 131,000 people with emergency food supplies such as wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses salt and rice
  • Over 100,000 people with health services, including medicines, vaccines and maternal and newborn care
  • Over 2,900 mothers and children under five with treatment for acute malnutrition

This summer, in addition to responding to the hunger crisis, DEC charities have been supporting communities hit by the earthquake in Paktika and flash floods in parts of the country, made possible thanks to the flexibility of DEC funds.

The humanitarian response helped many communities survive the harsh winter and withstand these emergencies, but despite the increase in aid efforts, a crisis of this magnitude is not quickly resolved and the outlook for Afghans remains bleak. Price rises and food shortages means nearly half the population are estimated to have a dangerous lack of food, and 5.9 million people are one step away from famine. People in Afghanistan still need our support.

Over the next 12 months we will continue to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan, while placing a growing emphasis on livelihood projects to help them build a more stable future, including funding water and irrigation schemes to help counter the impact of the drought.

Central to this new strand of work are vocational training and livelihood initiatives to help people get back on their feet and cash-for-work projects so breadwinners can support their families while doing work that benefits their communities.

Here are some of the ways your donations helped people in the first three months of our response and below we set out our plans up to the end of December 2023.

How funds have been spent

In the first three months of the response (up to 31 March 2022), DEC charities and local partners delivered over £3.57 million of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, with the majority of funds providing cash and voucher assistance for families to meet their most urgent needs.

Tap segments to see a breakdown

DEC response in the initial 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.

66% of DEC funds provided high-risk, marginalised and displaced families with cash assistance and vouchers, giving 12,600 households the flexibility to spend funds on their most urgent needs, such as food, warm clothes, or fuel. A survey by Save the Children 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 800,000 people to leave their homes in 2021 alone, according to UNOCHA. 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 2,900 households with cash assistance for shelter, fuel and blankets and delivered shelter and winter and household items including pressure cookers, gas bottles, cooking utensils and pots.

Providing emergency food to help save lives

18.9 million Afghans, nearly half the population, are estimated to remain acutely food insecure while 3.9 million children are acutely malnourished – the highest number in emergency food insecurity in the world. And despite the powerful humanitarian response, with global food prices rising due to the Ukraine conflict and Afghanistan’s own harvest set to fail again this year, the situation remains alarmingly severe. Many parents are restricting their own meals so their children can eat. 

11% of DEC funds in the first months of our response has provided 13,300 households with either cash for food or food packages of, for example, 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 the 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 months of the response, 34,800 people have accessed health services funded by DEC at local health centres. 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 months of the response, 3% of DEC funds has been spent on distributing hygiene kits, with 13,500 households receiving items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, sanitary pads and buckets; promoting hygiene awareness including of Covid-19; and repairing and constructing facilities for safe drinking water.

How funds will be spent

In Phase 2 of our response, DEC charities will continue to support those most at risk across the country with a planned expenditure up to December 2023 of £16.9 million.

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DEC response in the months ahead

Multi-purpose cash

In the coming months, DEC charities plan to provide:

  • Over 264,000 people with primary healthcare services such as maternal care and nutrition services
  • Over 170,000 people with hygiene promotion messaging
  • 11,700 people with assistance to restore their livelihoods through, for example, training in agriculture and livestock
  • 46,900 households with cash assistance giving them flexibility to buy, for example, to buy warm clothes, food or fuel
  • 55,300 individuals with screening for malnutrition
  • 4,700 households with food packages including for example, wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, and rice
  • 158,000 people with gender-based violence awareness-raising

Thank you for supporting the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal. With your support, DEC charities have helped many families survive the winter months, and we will continue to support the people of Afghanistan with funds raised by the appeal.