Hunger, poverty loom over Afghans as winter approaches

By Najibullah

Men and boys stand as they receive free bread distributed as part of the Save Afghans From Hunger campaign in front of a bakery in Kabul on January 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Men and boys stand as they receive free bread distributed as part of the Save Afghans From Hunger campaign in front of a bakery in Kabul on January 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Sayed Azimullah, 34, is one of the hundreds of day labourers who go to the Pul-e-Surkh roundabout in Kabul each morning in the hopes of finding work.

"I barely find work -- only one or two days in a six-day week," he said.

The daily wage of a labourer in Afghanistan is 350 AFN ($4), but work itself is hard to find due to Afghanistan's slowing construction sector, Azimullah said.

Day labourers are at particular risk as winter approaches in Afghanistan, where hunger and poverty have threatened millions over the past year.

A cobbler waits for customers along a sidewalk in Kandahar on October 8. [Javed Tanveer/AFP]

A cobbler waits for customers along a sidewalk in Kandahar on October 8. [Javed Tanveer/AFP]

In 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached more than 21 million food insecure and vulnerable people across Afghanistan including in remote and hard to reach areas. [WFP/Twitter]

In 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached more than 21 million food insecure and vulnerable people across Afghanistan including in remote and hard to reach areas. [WFP/Twitter]

"Afghanistan continues to face alarming levels of hunger," said Philippe Kropf, head of communications for World Food Programme (WFP) Afghanistan.

"Some 9 in 10 households struggle to feed themselves and face insufficient food consumption," he said. "Already pushed to their limit, families are spending nearly all of their income on food and millions of families have almost nothing left to face another winter."

"Urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates as rural communities, and day labourers are amongst the most vulnerable families," he added.

Afghanistan's economy has lost nearly $5 billion since August 2021, and is reversing "in 12 months what had taken 10 years to accumulate", the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reported October 5.

Nearly 700,000 jobs have vanished, it said.

Soaring prices

The price of basic food items in markets in Afghanistan have gone up 18% compared to last year, Kropf noted.

That includes a 29% increase in flour prices and a 32% increase in rice prices.

"The Ukraine conflict has further caused upheaval in global food and energy markets, and soaring food and fuel prices put millions at risk of hunger with families unable to afford a basic meal," he said.

"Having struggled through a year of unprecedented economic hardship and environmental disasters like earthquakes and flooding, vulnerable families are less prepared than ever to weather another harsh winter," Kropf said.

"Homes and fields have been destroyed, jobs and incomes vanished, people fell into debt and food prices on local markets skyrocketed," he said. "What little money families have buys less and less food."

Prices for fuel, wood and coal have also gone up.

Coal prices have gone up compared to last year due to an increase in exports of the fuel to Pakistan, according to Waliullah, a wood and coal seller in Kabul.

"The price of one metric tonne of coal was 10,000 AFN [$115], but this year, it is not even winter yet and one metric tonne of coal costs 14,500 AFN [$167]," he said.

Prices are likely to further increase in winter, he added.

Zabiullah, 27, who used to work as a driver for the previous government, now has to go out every morning and search for work.

"I have a family of seven and have to work," he said.

"But unfortunately, finding work in the current situation is very difficult and I can barely make money for a simple meal."

"With a daily labourer's wage, I hardly manage to feed my family," he said. "Prices are going up every day and it is very difficult to make ends meet with the daily wage of just two to three days a week."

International assistance

The WFP is one of the last remaining barriers between Afghanistan and famine, according to Kropf.

"From January to August, WFP has assisted 21.9 million people in Afghanistan through emergency food and nutrition support, the majority of them repeatedly over several months," he said.

"WFP has distributed more than 770,000 metric tonnes of food and transferred more than $208 million through cash and commodity vouchers directly to families to help them cover their food needs."

"Across the country, WFP will increase the number of people to be assisted during the harsh winter months to more than 15 million, both in cities and in rural areas," he added.

"That is roughly 5 million people more than WFP supported in the summer months following the harvest."

Donors have been generous in recent months, but the scale of the hunger crisis in Afghanistan is immense, Kropf said, adding that needs outpace available funding.

The WFP needs $1.1 billion for the remainder of 2022, he said.

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The best way to support people is to create job opportunities so that they don't get used to begging but earn a living through their work. All domestic and international institutions should work to create job opportunities for the needy people. Poverty, unemployment and the uncertain political and economic situation of the country have made Afghans more frustrated and tired. Only God knows when this situation will change. Taliban and America are to be blamed for this situation. America handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban.


Direct financial or food assistance is essential for those unable to work due to infirmity, disability, or any other factor that takes away their ability to work. Otherwise, the best support for people is creating job opportunities so that they do not get used to beggary but earn a living by their work. Creating jobs for needy people with the ability to work is a must for all domestic and international organizations and agencies.


The World Food Organization (WFP), currently operating in Afghanistan, recently reported that 9 out of 10 people in Afghanistan face food shortages, and families cannot afford to feed their children as required. According to this report, since the beginning of the current gregorian year, they have helped more than 21 million vulnerable Afghans. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, says that the humanitarian and human rights crisis in this country is still going on, and we need to take action to prevent the situation of instability. Save Afghanistan


The people of Afghanistan will permanently suffer if a standard strategy is not developed to solve this situation and the economic problem of Afghans is not addressed. Unfortunately, during the past twenty years, when 42 countries of the world made Afghanistan a laboratory of their weapons, and each country brought its cannons, tanks, and other weapons and tested them in Afghanistan, none of the government and state officials asked them to build industrial factories for Afghanistan, to control Afghanistan's water, and produce electricity for Afghanistan. Inside the country, government officials engaged in theft and degeneration instead of serving the people. As a result, Pakistan prevailed against the government of Afghanistan and the United States and took Afghanistan under its rule. Now Afghans are suffering, and Pakistanis are enjoying the pain and misery of Afghans.


Even though hunger and poverty have significantly worsened the condition of the people, the World Bank, in their latest report, has mentioned many challenges facing the economy of Afghanistan. A senior official of the Taliban government said that the Taliban had not done such important basic works in the past year that would satisfy the people. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy director of the Ministry of Economy, said in a meeting in Kabul yesterday, Wednesday (20.10.2022), "we have to know that the nation is not satisfied with our work. We must do something for them so that we get them free from the world in such a way that we would not ask them for help." So the Taliban themselves are convinced that they have not done the work for the people, and when the Taliban say that the work has not been done, what should the people do, what should they eat, and what should they do? It is said that there are several groups of Taliban; one group speaks one thing, another comes and says something else, and another says something else... So instead of working for the people, they are stuck in their problems. What is left is that people are falling into the pit of hunger and poverty day by day, and at the same time, the economy of Afghanistan is struggling.


While the people of Afghanistan are dying of hunger, World's superpowers are busy fighting and damaging each other. Every day, millions of dollars are spent on the war between Russia and Ukraine. The damages caused by this war are also incalculable. China also wants to start a war with Taiwan, and the situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan is also dire. The World's superpowers can spend $billions on their defense budgets, but they cannot help the poor and hungry people in Afghanistan and other countries who have lost everything due to their brutal games. May God face these rich countries suffering the same situation as Afghans so they can understand how hunger's pain feels.


While poverty and hunger are increasing day by day and winter is approaching, the rulers of Afghanistan are not taking care of it at all. A few days ago, they made a fuss in the media that they had signed oil, gas, and oil contracts with Russia, but there is still no sign of it, nor have they mentioned whether these contracts were signed or were just rumors. But the situation of the people is getting worse as the weather gets colder. The weather has cooled down in some provinces. Before, people only died of hunger, but after this, cold weather will also suffocate them. The other thing is that the Taliban are only there to benefit from the revenue agencies, but they don't care about what is terrible in the homeland and needs to be repaired again. Leave everything else aside, the amount of coal going to Pakistan every day is a lot of money, but they sell it cheaply, and whatever money they get goes to their sacks instead of the bank.


It is true that poverty is increasing from day to day, and has put more people in a dire situation. Poverty, unemployment, and the country's unknown political and economic situation have increasingly disappointed and overwhelmed Afghans. Only God knows when this situation will reverse. The Taliban and the United States are responsible for this situation. The United States surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban and set a condition for them. However, instead of accepting the conditions set by the United States and the international community, the Taliban consider themselves winners of the 20-years long war in Afghanistan. They are not ready to accept the international community's conditions, which are to build an inclusive government, allow women's work and education, ensure human rights, and guarantee the rights of minorities. As a result, the international community does not recognize their government, which causes the sanction of Afghanistan in every aspect. So what is the outcome? The Taliban are sitting in government offices, and all are busy relishing people's tax money all day, and the western countries do not care about the ordinary Afghans. Thus, only the Afghans remain hungry and may die of hunger. The poor people of Afghanistan have always paid the significant price of conflicts. People get killed if there is war, and people get hurt if it is a political dispute. May God protect Afghans. :(


According to the information of Business Insider, one ton of coal is currently sold for 393 dollars in the world, but it is said that Afghanistan's coal goes to Pakistan at a meager price. This list mentions the coal reserves of 100 countries of the world:


Afghanistan is currently facing a crisis in the area of fuel. The Taliban and Pakistan have the most significant roles in this disaster. According to an information sheet on coal, China has the fourth largest reserve of coal in the world, amounting to 149 billion 818 million 259 thousand tons and accounting for 13.1% of the world, and India is in fifth place. It has 107 billion 726 million 551 thousand tons of coal, making up 9.5% of the world's coal. And when it comes to Afghanistan and Afghanistan's neighbors, then Pakistan ranks 20th in the list of the world's 100 most coal-rich countries, with 3 billion 377 million 477 thousand tons of coal that makes up 0.3% of the world's coal. Another neighbor is Uzbekistan, which has 1 billion 515 million 676 thousand tons of coal and makes up 0.1% of the world's coal. Iran ranks 29th in the world list with 1 billion 326 million and 78 thousand tons of coal, which makes up 0.1% of the world's coal. Tajikistan is in the 41st place on the list with 413 million tons of coal. Afghanistan is in the 62nd place in the world list of 100 coal owners, with only 72 million and 752 thousand tons of coal. The annual domestic expenditure of coal in Afghanistan is less than 2 million tons per year, which may be finished in less than 40 years. Pakistan, which is currently chasing Afghanistan's coal and wants to get it in PKR instead of dollars, has 46 times more coal than Afghanistan, but it does not say why it is not spending on its coal. According