Roughly two million more Afghans are expected to suffer from food shortage due to the ongoing drought, bringing the total of those affected to nine million. The crisis comes at a time when the World Food Program is already facing a severe funding shortage for its programs in Afghanistan and donors are slowly withdrawing aid spending on the country.
For instance, WFP said the U.S. government has cut its funding of activities in Afghanistan by more than two-thirds since 2009. The U.S. Agency for International Development, however, has designated $40 million in food assistance to the country. The funds are expected to be programmed by September 2011.
WFP spokesman Assadullah Azhari said WFP continues to appeal to donors for support so that it will be able to assist those who will need help in the coming months. He underscored the urgency to get food assistance to the drought-affected areas before winter, as such areas tend to be cut off by snowfall.
Azhari said the organization originally planned to feed more than seven million Afghans in 2011. Its resources, however, are enough for only four million.
The food shortage is caused in large part by untimely and inadequate snow and rainfall, which resulted in poor wheat harvests. The country relies on rain-fed wheat crop for 55 percent of its total wheat yield. Irrigated wheat, however, has also been affected by the drought.
Without food assistance, households that depend on rain-fed wheat in the northwestern part of the country are expected to suffer from food shortage until the next harvest in spring 2012.
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