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Humanitarian Assistance

USAID support the Afghan government to ensure humanitarian assistance gets to the most vulnerable communities.
USAID support the Afghan government to ensure humanitarian assistance gets to the most vulnerable communities.

Humanitarian concerns for Afghanistan are as complex as they are persistent. The humanitarian landscape includes a backdrop of chronic and emergency levels of food and nutrition insecurity further complicated by conflict displacement, recurring natural disasters, and unprecedented numbers of Afghans returning from neighboring countries and abroad. This year, more than 9.3 million Afghans require some level of humanitarian assistance. The intensity of the conflict has steadily mounted over the last few fighting seasons, causing increasing numbers of civilian casualties and high levels of displacement. The combination of the increase of conflict-affected internally displaced people and the surge in returnees has severely strained the capacity of local communities, humanitarian agencies, and the Afghan government. USAID partners with 15 NGOs and UN humanitarian agencies and has contributed over $100 million in fiscal year 2017 to meet humanitarian needs countrywide. USAID humanitarian funding comes from the mission, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Office of Food for Peace. Last year alone, USAID reached over 2.5 million vulnerable Afghans by providing them with emergency shelter kits, food and nutrition assistance, hygiene products and awareness, community-based disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness training, winter clothing and blankets, emergency health and trauma care, and access to clean drinking water. With humanitarian needs on the rise, USAID expects to provide nearly 3 million people with lifesaving relief and assistance.


In response to this complex and ongoing emergency situation, USAID is: 1) supporting targeted responses to meet humanitarian and food assistance needs of conflict and disaster-affected populations; 2) building resilience by supporting community-based mechanisms that incorporate disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness; and 3) supporting coherent and coordinated national disaster preparedness and humanitarian response systems. These programs provide health, livelihood, food and nutrition, protection, shelter, and disaster preparedness and response capacity to conflict-affected and disaster-affected people. Assistance is particularly focused on internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups, including malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women. USAID also aims to improve humanitarian response efforts by supporting rapid response capacity for acute needs following natural disasters and conflict, improving humanitarian indicators, and enhancing humanitarian coordination, data collection, and analysis.


  • Emergency Response: In Fiscal Year 2016, USAID provided humanitarian assistance to approximately 2.5 million Afghans affected by natural and manmade disasters by providing them with emergency shelter kits, food and nutrition assistance, hygiene products and awareness, winter clothing and blankets, emergency health and trauma care and access to clean drinking water. So far in Fiscal Year 2017, the USAID Mission in Afghanistan, the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the USAID's Office of Food for Peace have contributed $6 million, $30 million, and $69 million respectively to meet ongoing humanitarian needs of over 2.4 million Afghans
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness: In Fiscal Year 2016, USAID trained over 6,850 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members and over 45,000 School Emergency Response Team (SERT) members in disaster-prone areas throughout the country to improve community-level preparedness and emergency response capacity
  • Humanitarian Coordination and Information Management: USAID provides humanitarian coordination and information management tools for the entire humanitarian community through partners including the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP)


USAID works closely with Afghanistan’s State Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs (SMDMHA) and other ministries and relief actors to monitor, assess, and respond to natural and manmade disasters in Afghanistan, including stockpiling non-food emergency relief supplies for immediate relief distribution. USAID also works at the community level to: conduct hazard mapping and contingency planning, train first responders, control small-scale flood, and manage land and resources to improve communities’ abilities to cope with disaster. So far in 2017, USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance through humanitarian assistance implementing partners such as International Organization for Migration, Agha Khan for Habitat/Focus Humanitarian Organization, Save the Children, and International Rescue Committee assisted approximately 2.4 million conflict and disaster-affected Afghans and returnees from Pakistan and Iran by providing emergency shelter kits, winter clothing, blankets, and other emergency relief commodities. In addition, support is given to Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, International Medical Corps, and ZOA International to provide shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance, including improved sanitation facilities, access to clean drinking water, and hygiene awareness training to families affected by the conflict and natural disasters.


USAID support combats hunger and strengthens food and nutrition security by providing emergency food assistance to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations, including pregnant and lactating women, malnourished children five years and younger, internally displaced persons and returnees and other severely food insecure populations. So far, in 2017, USAID/Food for Peace has contributed $64 million to the World Food Program’s emergency food and nutrition assistance efforts, which will reach nearly 3.4 million people with locally- and regionally-procured in-kind food, food vouchers, and cash transfers for food. Additionally, Food for Peace has contributed $5 million in Fiscal Year 2017 to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support emergency nutrition programs in Afghanistan. UNICEF is providing ready-to-use therapeutic foods in response to severe acute malnutrition across the country. UNICEF also builds the capacity of non-governmental partners and the Government of Afghanistan through performance monitoring, training, and supervision.


USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance supports the World Health Organization to provide critical health care services, including establishing temporary health facilities, providing medicine and medical supplies, and supporting provinces at high risk of health emergencies to develop and implement mass casualty management plans. USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is also provided support to UNICEF, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, and ZOA International to increase access to water and sanitation (WASH) services across the country, specifically targeting children, as poor hygiene, lack of sanitation, and inadequate access to safe drinking water directly contribute to infant mortality and morbidity, as well as under-nutrition.


Supported by USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) and ZOA International is assisting natural disaster-affected households through the provision of cash-based assistance for construction materials, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and structural resilience trainings, and distribution of emergency shelter kits.


With USAID’s support, the UN World Food Program-operated UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provides aerial transport for humanitarian personnel, increasing humanitarian access and facilitating delivery of food and other emergency assistance to populations in need. In the first six months of 2017, UNHAS transported nearly 30,000 passengers from 158 humanitarian organizations to destinations across Afghanistan, in addition to conducting 34 security relocations and 11 medical evacuations.


USAID-funded activities benefit Afghanistan’s State Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs and other Afghan government ministries, as well as more than 200 humanitarian organizations. These efforts have helped to standardize information collection and dissemination and to improve the coordination of humanitarian efforts throughout the country.

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