The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is short $220 million to fight hunger in Afghanistan for the rest of this year. Child feeding programs are already the victim.
The WFP office in Afghanistan reports that shortages of high energy biscuits are preventing 520,000 children from receiving food at school. If low funding continues, an additional 500,000 children will lose school meals in June.
By August the WFP school feeding program, which is scheduled to reach two million Afghan children, will be completely out of high energy biscuits.
To further add to the funding disaster, shortages of Ready-to-use Supplementary Food will impact over 175,000 children under five years old in the coming months. Afghanistan is a country with one of the worst rates of child malnutrition in the world. Both infant and mother health rates suffer.
Foods like plumpynut and supplementary plumpy, which can save the lives of small children, need to be in full supply.
The school feeding program is one that should be available to all Afghan children in the form of in-school meals as well as take-home rations. Food at school increases nutrition levels, class attendance, and performance.
School meals are also a vital safety net for poor families, knowing their children have that food waiting for them at school. So many Afghans live in poverty that spikes in food prices can be devastating.
Right now in Afghanistan food prices are high. The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that “prices of wheat, the country’s main staple, have been rising since May-June 2010, partly due to the seasonal increase and partly [due to the] rise in the international prices.”
In April 2011, “Bread and cereals prices rose even higher with [an] annual inflation rate of 26.7 percent.” Safety nets like school meals need to be in place now.
The growing food crisis in Afghanistan is yet another example of the tragic failure to win peace in Afghanistan. The people suffer so much from hunger and poverty, yet these areas are not given the attention they need.
At what point do the policymakers come to realize that the Afghanistan democracy’s vital ingredient is food?