Attrition: Famine In Afghanistan

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September 24, 2010: The biggest threat to Afghans in the next year is not the Taliban, but starvation. Floods, locusts and a wheat disease have combined to cause wheat production to fall nearly 20 percent in the next year. It could get worse if the government does not obtain disease resistant wheat seed for future crops. So far, the government has not responded effectively to the famine threats.

The minimum shortfall in the next year is 700,000 tons, enough to feed over four million people for a year. Wheat is hard to obtain at present because of drought in Russia and Central Asia. Supplies can be obtained from other parts of the world, but Afghanistan still has a poor road system, and imported food may not be able to reach everyone in time to avoid deaths from starvation or illness from malnutrition. Moreover, past experience with famine relief revealed severe problems with bandits or Taliban gunmen demanding bribes from the food trucks, to allow them into many areas. Sometimes, the trucks and their cargoes would simply be stolen.

 

 


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