WFP appeals for $19 million to aid earthquake-affected population in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Herat 11 October 2023 A female WFP monitor speaks to a survivor of the earthquake in a tent put up next to the rubble of her home. The Grandmother holds her grandchild in her arms, whose mother died in the first earthquake on 7 October. Photo: WFP

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has made an urgent plea for $19 million to provide emergency food assistance to 100,000 individuals affected by recent earthquakes in Herat.

Quoting recent figures by the UN, WFP said that the October 7 earthquakes in Herat claimed the lives of at least 1,400 people, with more than 1,800 individuals sustaining injuries, and that most of the casualties were women and children.

Nearly 25,000 buildings were reduced to rubble. Those who survived are currently seeking refuge in tents adjacent to the remnants of their homes, living in fear of further earthquakes and aftershocks, WFP said.

In swift response to the initial earthquakes, WFP initiated the distribution of fortified biscuits and specialized food designed to prevent child malnutrition. This was followed by the provision of fortified wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses, and salt to families affected by the devastation, the organization said.

“Although WFP is actively assisting the earthquake survivors, we are compelled to draw resources from an already severely underfunded program in Afghanistan. Therefore, we urgently require additional funding,” stated Ana Maria Salhuana, Deputy Country Director of WFP Afghanistan. “Natural disasters like these earthquakes push communities already struggling to feed themselves further into dire destitution.”

With winter looming just a month away, WFP said its plans include providing affected families with food assistance and cash-based transfers for a duration of three to seven months. Given the availability of funds, the emergency response will also encompass longer-term resilience initiatives to aid vulnerable communities in rebuilding their livelihoods.

Earlier this year, due to a considerable funding deficit, WFP was compelled to reduce the quantity of food provided to families and discontinue life-saving food assistance for 10 million people in Afghanistan. Presently, WFP can only support one out of every five people who require food assistance for their survival.

In addition to their earthquake response efforts, WFP said it is urgently seeking $400 million to preposition food supplies in anticipation of winter, during which many communities become isolated due to heavy snowfall and landslides. These communities are already experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity, and WFP plays a crucial role in providing sustenance to women who are increasingly marginalized in public life.