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New Grant to Improve Food Security, Lessen Drought and COVID-19 Impacts for Rural Afghans

16 February 2021

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) of $97.50 million to provide regular and predictable cash support to Afghans affected by droughts and COVID-19 and improve food and nutrition security. The grant will also help build Afghanistan’s drought early warning and response systems.

The grant will help finance the Drought Early Warning, Early Finance, and Early Action Project (ENETAWF). The project will complement regular humanitarian relief efforts and provide unconditional cash support and cash-for-work benefits to about 2.2 million Afghans in the 78 districts most affected by food insecurity and drought. The project will provide regular targeted financial assistance to households to build resilience and scale up support across the country before and during droughts. It will also support the Government of Afghanistan to deliver critical weather, water, and climate information services, disseminate early warnings, and strengthen disaster preparedness within communities. 

The IDA grant complements grants of $115 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, a multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors, plus $8 million from the Global Risk Financing Facility, and $2 million from the program for Asia Resilience to Climate Change Multi-donor Trust Fund.

“Afghanistan is one of the countries most affected and vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, and its weak response system has further contributed to this vulnerability,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “This new financial assistance will help the Government of Afghanistan lessen drought impacts that have displaced millions of Afghans and pushed them into poverty. The project’s support to Afghan rural households will contribute to overall poverty reduction and economic recovery.” 

Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to intense and recurring droughts, which further undermine its growth and stability.  Natural disasters have spurred displacement, poverty, and food insecurity among rural Afghans, which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated. Rural households, dependent on subsistence agriculture in drought-prone, rainfed areas, are especially vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity.

The project will be implemented by the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, under which the National Emergency Operations Center in the disaster management agency will be strengthened. In addition, a Disaster Risk Management Resource Center will be established at the ministry. 

In line with the World Bank Group’s institutional strategy on Fragility, Conflict, and Violence, the investments outlined  in  this  project will  seek  to mitigate  drivers  of  fragility  by  addressing  some  of its  root  causes and it will seek to strengthen the institutions necessary to transition the country out of fragility.