WFP reports rise in malnourished women, children in Afghanistan

A hospital in Herat. File photo.

The World Food Program (WFP) reports that the number of malnourished women in Afghanistan has reached 1.2 million, with malnourished children expected to hit 3 million this year, according to Mona Sheikh, head of WFP’s nutrition department in the country.

The increase in malnutrition among women is significant, with figures climbing from 800,000 last year to currently 1.2 million. “Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise further this year,” Sheikh stated. “It is estimated that 3 million children will suffer from malnutrition in Afghanistan, and we will only be able to assist roughly 600,000 of them.”

This report comes amid rising concerns over poverty and lack of access to basic food among Afghan women. Despite significant financial support for women and girls in Afghanistan from the United States, totaling over $787.4 million from 2002 to 2020 as reported by the Office of the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), challenges persist.

Nafisa, a resident of Herat and the sole breadwinner for her family, expressed her struggle with providing for her five children after being displaced from Badghis province three years ago. “My children often go to bed hungry, and we have not received any help from aid organizations,” she said.

The United Nations has highlighted the dire situation for women in Afghanistan, noting increasing maternal mortality, gender-based violence, and limited access to health care as indicators of the country being one of the most challenging places for women. Furthermore, restrictions on women’s employment in non-governmental organizations have severely limited access to aid, especially in rural areas.