November 26, 2021
By Janice Biehn
When the United States pulled out of Afghanistan in August 2021, the world looked on in disbelief as the Taliban quickly took city after city. To military from Canada and other countries who had supported the Afghani people these past 20 years – and indeed to anyone – the scenes on the nightly news were heartbreaking. A desperate humanitarian crisis was quickly unfolding.
Anglicans reached out to PWRDF to see how they could help. PWRDF continued to monitor the situation, contacting various partners to see where funds could best be used.
We had experience from which to draw. Between October 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, PWRDF had been supporting a COVID-19 response in Bamyan, Afghanistan. Using $30,000 equity from our Canadian Foodgrains Bank account and working with fellow Foodgrains Bank member Presbyterian World Service and Development (PWS&D), the program provided cash assistance to 1,100 of the most vulnerable returning refugees and IDP families in Bamyan. Community World Service Asia (CWSA) was the implementing partner on the ground.
The project significantly improved food security and nutrition, allowing women, girls and children in particular to purchase their preferred food. Because it prioritized working with women, women were empowered to make spending choices to feed their families.
That was then. The Taliban takeover has added a new level of urgency to the humanitarian crisis. But because of this past project, PWRDF is able to respond to the current crisis, leveraging this recent partnership. PWRDF has pledged $50,000 from our Foodgrains Bank equity to a new response, led by PWS&D, working again with CWSA. PWRDF has also pledged $30,000 to a new ACT Alliance appeal, which is also working with CWSA.
According to the ACT appeal, a further deterioration in food security is expected between now and March 2022 – the winter lean season – with the number of people in food security crisis increasing by nearly 35% from last year, to 22.8 million. Among this group, 14 million will be in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 3 (Crisis) and 8.7 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). This amounts to an estimated 55% of the population in IPC Phase 3 or above during the lean season, and would be the highest ever recorded in the country.
CWSA is a long standing and trusted partner of PWRDF and the ACT Alliance members. “In 2005, Pakistan suffered a massive earthquake and PWRDF was able to support the affected people through CWSA, also using the matching fund from the government of Canada (then CIDA),” says PWRDF’s Humanitarian Response Coordinator, Naba Gurung. “I was a part of the ACT Alliance’s joint monitoring visit to the earthquake affected region coordinated by CWSA. In 2010, PWRDF responded to the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan following massive floods. CWSA was an implementing partner, and I had the honour of witnessing their work visiting many affected communities with whom they were working for relief and recovery.”
The organization has 40 years of working history with Afghan Refugees in Mansehra and Haripur camps through health and livelihoods support. Community ownership is encouraged through hiring of staff and workers from the local communities as well as effective community engagement through their respective male and female community committees.
The Foodgrains Bank project will use the previously successful program as a template. It will provide US$90 per month to the identified households. The project is scheduled to start in December, with monthly distributions December through May, to cover the “lean season.”
“We can reach at least 1,000 households with a total budget of CAD $900,000,” says Guy Smagghe, Executive Director of PWS&D. “But our hope is to go as high as 2,350 households with a budget of $2,000,000 as requested by CWSA.”
As a part of the ACT appeal, CWSA intends to provide humanitarian assistance to 9,000 vulnerable households among the internally displaced, returnees, host communities and refugees affected by the conflict and the uncertain situation to meet their immediate food and other essential needs. Six-thousand affected families in Afghanistan and 3,000 refugees in Pakistan will be supported through cash assistance. “Women and children will be given priority in the selection process given they are the ones who are mostly affected with any such crisis,” states the ACT appeal. Priority will also be given to women-headed households, widows, differently abled people, households with orphans and larger families. Gender, age and disability will be the cross-cutting themes of the project.
How you can help
Please keep the people of Afghanistan in your prayers. PWRDF is also accepting donations to support these two projects. To donate click here, or go to pwrdf.org/give-today and choose Afghanistan response. You may also donate by phone at 416-822-9083 or leave a voicemail toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call, or mail your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden, 3rd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2. Please mark Afghanistan on the the cheque.