IN NUMBERS | Drought, malnutrition, poverty: Afghanistan's hunger and poverty crisis

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

With Afghanistan fast becoming the world's worst humanitarian crisis, UN agencies asked donors on Tuesday for $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid for 2022, the largest appeal ever sought for a single country.

Millions of Afghans are at risk of famine as one of the country's worst droughts in decades is compounded by an economic meltdown following the Taliban's sudden return to power last year.

EXPLAINER | How the Taliban engineered 'political collapse' of Afghanistan

Governments responded to the Islamist militant group's takeover in mid-August by freezing billions of dollars of Afghan assets overseas and halting most international funding to the aid-reliant nation of about 40 million people.

Here are some facts about the crisis:

- A record 23 million Afghans - more than half the population - face acute hunger, with nearly 9 million one step from famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

- Up to 1 million children under five are at risk of dying from malnutrition.

- Four-fifths of the country is experiencing severe or serious drought. About 70% of Afghans live in rural areas, and 85% derive income from agriculture.

- About 3.5 million Afghans have been internally displaced by violence, drought and other disasters, including 700 000 last year.

- The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that 97% could fall below the poverty line by mid-2022. About half of the population lived in poverty before the Taliban takeover.

- Annual per capita income was $508 in 2020, down from $650 in 2012. It is expected to fall to $350 this year.

- Economists predict it could take $2 billion to lift all people in extreme poverty up to the poverty line.

READ | Taliban orders shop owners to behead mannequins

- Before the Taliban takeover, international aid contributed as much as 40% of gross domestic product (GDP), and about three-quarters of government spending, paying for everything from electricity imports to healthcare and teachers' salaries.

- Following the takeover, the International Monetary Fund predicted Afghanistan's economy could contract by up to 30% in 2021.

- Restricting female employment - as the Taliban have done - could inflict an immediate economic loss of between $600 million and $1 billion (3-5% of GDP).

- Annual development assistance, which was suspended after the Taliban's takeover, was $4.2 billion in 2019 - down from a high of $6.7 billion in 2011, according to World Bank data.

- Humanitarian aid, a smaller portion of overall past assistance, has continued since the takeover, amounting to $1.72 billion in 2021 - up from $733 million in 2020 and $585 million in 2019.

- The UN-appeal launched on Tuesday aims to shore up basic services, ensuring health workers and others are paid directly without funds going to the Taliban. 

Another $623 million is needed to support Afghan refugees and host communities in five neighbouring countries, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nappies, they cost too much
6% - 211 votes
Formula and food, it's getting so expensive
18% - 598 votes
Creche and school fees are a struggle every month
76% - 2562 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.