October 7th marks the 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. And as if war has not been enough, famine is descending upon Afghans.
Drought has struck 14 provinces in Afghanistan. Crops have been ruined and food supplies are almost gone. The charity Oxfam says, “Nearly three quarters of the people living in the affected areas say that they will run out of food in less than two months.”
As famine conditions have strengthened, funding for UN World Food Programme (WFP) has diminished. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations.
WFP was forced to cut school meals for hundreds of thousands of Afghan children earlier this year. In a country deeply mired in poverty, school meals are a lifeline the children desperately need.
Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in the entire world. If this crisis, which is often ignored by policymakers, were given more attention many of Afghanistan’s ills could be remedied. For food is the foundation of peace, education and literacy, and maybe most of all hope. Hope and Afghanistan are two words not often associated.
There is talk of donor fatigue when it comes to Afghanistan and hunger relief in general, but this is nonsense. Food aid programs make up less than one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.
Congress has proposed reducing funding for the Food for Peace and other hunger fighting programs. This is such a mistake when peace in Afghanistan and other parts of the world depend on fighting hunger.
After World War II, when a CARE package center was opened in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio people flocked there to buy food for hungry people overseas. The first one to do so was a former World War I infantryman.
The first World War saw immense human suffering from both warfare and the resulting famine, and this donor had compassion and first-hand understanding of their plight. Americans from that generation did not suffer from donor fatigue, and continued feeding the hungry during the war and afterwards. Following the Second World War millions more were saved, and Europe was rebuilt from the important foundation of food.
Today, we cannot forget about Afghanistan nor let the people suffer. On this 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, let’s work to win the peace. It can start with fighting hunger.