UNICEF Afghanistan Humanitarian Report: January-December 2021 – Afghanistan

Strong points

  • 2021 has seen an increase in conflict, severe drought, multiple epidemics, the withdrawal of international forces and a significant political transition. However, in this context, UNICEF reached 4,246,562 people, including 3,180,003 children.

  • Programmatic adaptations, rapid scale-up and development of new ways of working in the fourth quarter saw most programmatic achievements nearly double and paved the way for UNICEF to reach 15 million people in 2022.

  • UNICEF-led clusters developed scaling-up strategies to work with partners on alternative response modalities and worked to deliver results under the 2021 flash appeal.

  • In October 2021, the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) projected that more than 52% of the population would live in IPC Emergency Phase 4 between October and March 2022.

  • 24.4 million Afghans, including 13.1 children, will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. Of these, 1.1 million are acutely malnourished children under five (HRP 2022).

Situation in numbers

18.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance (HRP 2021)

18.8 M people in food insecurity (IPC October 2021)

9,700,000 children need humanitarian aid

669,053 internally displaced people between 1 January and 30 December 2021 (OCHA)

Overview of Funding and Partnerships

In January 2021, UNICEF requested US$143.6 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children. As the context changed dramatically in August 2021 and humanitarian needs increased, UNICEF stepped up its response with a revised appeal to provide life-saving services to 6.1 million people, including 5.7 million children, requiring $192 million. UNICEF regularly engaged with partners to mobilize the resources needed to support its scale-up plan. Constant engagement, information sharing and continued advocacy for flexible emergency funding to operate in the new environment has enabled UNICEF to secure the funding needed to meet growing needs.

Public donors, international financial institutions and private donors through UNICEF National Committees have made generous contributions to UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Afghanistan. Donors include, among others, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the European Union (international partnerships and humanitarian aid), the Afghanistan (AHF), the governments of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and the USAID Humanitarian Aid Office, as well as funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW). UNICEF also received funding from global humanitarian thematic funds and emergency programmatic funds which provided much-needed flexible funding to adapt to changing context and enable rapid response and scale-up. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all donors and looks forward to partnering with them to deliver results under its $2 billion HAC 2022 appeal.

Overview of the situation and humanitarian needs

Significant events in 2021 have impacted access, limited supply and demand for services, and caused further turbulence in a country amid decades of war. The escalation of conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, disease outbreaks, an unprecedented severe drought, a harsh winter and a political transition that has led to many uncertainties, including deepening poverty, have all intensified the vulnerabilities of children and women in Afghanistan. The third wave of the COVID19 outbreak had a significant impact on access as schools were closed and movement restrictions were imposed to curb the spread. The wave peaked between May and July with around 2,000 cases per day. Throughout 2021, humanitarian needs have increased from 18.4 million people in 2021 to 24.4 million in 2022, representing a 30% increase compared to last year.

At the start of 2021, due to a lack of snowfall, the country was heading towards a drought. The extent and severity of the drought was underestimated and affected two-thirds of the country. According to the 2021 All of Afghanistan (WoA) Assessment, 46% of rural households reported that drought had affected their communities. Internal conflicts increased in the first half of 2021. As a result, more than 900 schools closed and a third of all households reported the presence of explosion hazards in or near their location. A record number of child victims was recorded in the first half of 2021, accounting for 32% of all victims.2 The conflict has led to an increase in the number of internally displaced people from 13,335 to more than 669,053 people across Afghanistan from the start of the year to 30 December 2021. In addition to internal displacement, there have been significant outflows and influxes of people throughout 2021, with peaks at various times due to conflict, uncertainty and political transition. An estimated 4,959,037 people left Afghanistan between January 1 and December 31, 2021 and around 4,497,490 returned during the same period. However, these figures do not take into account unofficial border crossings which would significantly increase the total number.

Since the events of August 15, political, economic and social shocks have increased humanitarian needs. Essential public services that children and families rely on have been contracted or cut off altogether as the economy has gone into freefall. Market disruption, cross-border movement, financial and trade mechanisms, cash and liquidity, and the freezing of $9.5 billion in central bank reserves led to a GDP contraction of around 40%. This has had a direct impact on humanitarian needs as the very systems used to deliver a response have broken down.

The deterioration has had a direct impact on women and children. In the fourth quarter of 2021, schools reopened but secondary schools remained closed in most provinces for adolescent girls. Teachers went unpaid for months, causing some to leave the profession. While less than 20% of the urban population had access to piped water in cities, drinking water supply has been cut in half in urban areas, leading to water contamination contributing to

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