Afghanistan: 80% of Informal Settlements households have limited access to food

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A boy stands outside his household’s Informal Settlement shelter in the North region of Afghanistan ©REACH/2017

A boy stands outside his household’s Informal Settlement shelter in the North region of Afghanistan ©REACH/2017

Widespread and protracted conflict in Afghanistan is contributing to large-scale internal displacement, with over 350,000 newly displaced people in 2017. Many of them are joining already saturated Informal Settlements (ISETs) across the country. According to the 2018 Afghanistan Humanitarian Overview, more than 2.2 million displaced people are living in these ISETs, where not only access to resources is limited, but poor shelter conditions, low hygiene standards and widespread food insecurity contribute to extensive insecurities and acute needs among these populations.

To better understand humanitarian conditions in ISETs, REACH, in collaboration with OCHA, conducted a Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment in August 2017, interviewing over 7,000 households and conducting 18 focus group discussions, across 5 out of 6 regions. This assessment aimed at better understanding both needs and vulnerabilities of populations living in ISETs, in order to efficiently target food security, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items (ESNFI) interventions. Overall, the assessment emphasises the extensive and unique vulnerabilities of displaced populations residing in ISETs, characterised by exacerbating needs and poor services.

Findings highlight that the vast majority of households (71%) relies on unsustainable and unreliable unskilled daily labour, indicating economic vulnerability. Irregular source of incomes contributes to severe food insecurity. Indeed, over 80% of households have limited access to food and 23% have insufficient access to drinking water, heightening protection, health and wellbeing concerns.

Additionally, this REACH study underlines that 66% of ISET households fear imminent eviction, outlining the expected financial drain on these households and more broadly suggesting further displacement in the near future. In particular, the assessment found that female-headed and refugee households are particularly vulnerable, shedding light on the need for targeted interventions to provide effective humanitarian assistance. 

Understanding that ISETs represent key sources of information on displacement, REACH recommends that further research is made in order to better inform humanitarian actors decision-making and support advocacy based programming in the near future.


Access REACH’s assessments in full at these links:
Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment: Shelter and WASH in Informal Settlements
Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment: Food Security in Informal Settlements