Joint supplementary memorandum submitted
by Christian Aid and Islamic Relief
During the Select Committee's examination of
witnesses on 30 October 2001, Christian Aid and Islamic Relief
were asked by Committee member, Rt Hon Tony Worthington MP, to
submit a paper on the constraints surrounding food aid delivery
and distribution in Afghanistan, currently, and the role of the
United Nations World Food Programme.
In the light of this request Christian Aid and
Islamic Relief make the following observations.
Insecurity is the most critical factor
affecting the delivery and distribution of food aid.
Under these difficult circumstances
all humanitarian actors have been performing as well as possible
to deliver and distribute aid. In such circumstances humanitarian
agencies can play a valuable role in alerting the international
community to the difficulties and calling for action to overcome
it is important to distinguish between
delivery, carried out by WFP to warehouses in the major Afghan
cities, and distribution which is carried out by NGOs who either
receive food from WFP warehouses, or in the rural districts directly
from WFP trucks.
Insecurity has had a particularly
negative affect on distribution, particularly in rural areas,
whereas deliveries take place along the better and, on the whole,
more secure major roads.
There are some rural areas where
almost no distributions have taken place since September, eg Ghor
and Badghis, and which are usually cut off in winter. The rural
areas in which distributions have taken place are mainly where
WFP has been able to truck the food in and distribute it directly
to the NGOs, bypassing the warehouses. This has happened in the
areas that were relatively more secure.
Delivery and distribution rates have
varied considerably since the attacks on 11 September. From 11
September to early October rates were significantly below the
level that WFP had identified was required to meet ongoing needs.
Distribution rates improved significantly in the period from 20
October to 12 November, as WFP was able to distribute directly
to NGOs in these more secure rural areas. Following the gains
made by the Northern Alliance on 12 November the security situation
has yet to stabilise and distribution rates have again dropped
As a result the totals of food distributed
over the whole period since 11 September and at the time of writing
has been insufficient to meet the ongoing needs identified by
WFP or to build up the stock-piles thought to be required for
areas normally cut-off by winter.
What impact did 11 September, the start of bombing
and subsequent military developments have on food distribution
After three years of severe drought and decades
of war, Afghanistan faced a food crisis. Following a joint WFP/FAO
assessment mission in May 2001, WFP launched an appeal to provide
food aid for 5.56 million people. Following the attacks on 11
September, WFP revised its plans and on 4 October 2001 launched
an appeal to enable it to deliver 52,000 MT per month of food
required to feed up to 7.5 million people over winter. These were
the targets WFP were using to plan its work from October onwards.
This amounted to a daily average delivery/distribution target
of 1,700 MT to meet ongoing food aid needs. This does not include
the necessity to build up a winter stockpile to guarantee food
security for the most vulnerable highland areas, covered in
more detail later in this submission.
Analysis of the stocks in country, and delivery
and distribution data from September to the present combined with
the information received from Christian Aid's partners, Islamic
Relief and other NGOs in Afghanistan indicates that military
activity and insecurity has had a very significant impact on the
ability to deliver and distribute food, a view shared by WFP.
Distribution, especially in rural areas has been the key problem,
with some rural areas receiving no distributions from 11 September
The analysis suggests that, at a countrywide
level, insufficient food has been distributed to meet ongoing
needs and create the winter stockpiles that WFP would have planned
to deliver by this time to meet the needs they identified. In
some provinces and districts, eg Ghor, the situation is acute,
with severely drought-affected communities cut-off by insecurity
and shortly to be cut-off by winter snows still to receive any
food distributions since 11 September.
The fast-changing nature of the security environment
and the obstacles to humanitarian aid make it relevant to breakdown
the difficulties experienced over time. All of the data has been
taken from the regular WFP situation reports and is referenced
to a summary of this information attached as Appendices.
11 September-7 October (date of start of bombing
The immediate impact of the attack
on 11 September was the withdrawal of all international staff
by the UN and NGOs. This restricted the ability of WFP and NGOs
to co-ordinate deliveries and distributions and reduced the quality
of monitoring normally expected to cover food distributions.
The expectation of a military attack
also created heightened tension and a climate of insecurity, which
meant that truck-drivers were less willing to deliver aid.
The capacity problems that resulted
and the uncertain security environment significantly reduced the
levels of delivery and distribution.
In the period from 11 September-7
October WFP reported delivering 6,121 MT into Afghanistan which
represents an average daily delivery rate of 227 MT. Distributions
were higher as stocks already inside Afghanistan could be used,
but were insufficient to meet the ongoing needs. Distributions
from WFP warehouses in this period totalled 15,458 MT, an average
of 573 MT per day.
The above graph analyses the average of daily
distribution over the preceding 7-day period, from 7 October to
27 November 2001.
The start of the bombing campaign
further increased tension and insecurity. Access to the more rural
areas became particularly difficult.
During the first fortnight of the
bombing, deliveries averaged 573 MT per day; compared to the WFP
target of 1,700 MT required to meet ongoing needs. Distribution
figures were even more worrying, averaging 436 MT per day, just
25 per cent of the WFP target.
Distribution rates improved significantly
when WFP altered their strategy on 20 October and started delivering
direct to NGOs in the rural areas that were accessible, particularly
Hazarjat (at that point mainly controlled by the Taliban). These
areas that were relatively more secure, probably because they
were predominantly controlled by one or other of the warring parties.
The military liaison between WFP and the Coalition may also have
been a factor in reducing the fear of bombing for truck-drivers,
and giving them the confidence to operate these routes.
In the last ten days of October,
deliveries averaged 1,442 MT per day and distributions 1,461 MT
per day. However, the food delivered direct to NGOs was treated
in WFP reports as distributed as soon as it was handed over to
the NGOs, who often then had significant work and logistical challenges
to overcome before the food would finally reach beneficiaries.
In the first 12 days of November,
prior to the huge change in the military situation following the
capture of Mazaar, WFP was able to deliver an average of 2,382
MT per day and distribute 2,252 MT per day, mainly direct to NGOs
as above. This is the point at which WFP gave their evidence to
the Select Committee and they could be justifiably proud of achieving
such distribution rates in these difficult circumstances.
However, detailed analysis of where
this food was being distributed inside Afghanistan showed that
there were several provinces in which virtually no distributions
were taking place because they were too insecure. Christian Aid
highlighted Ghor and Badghis in particular, as this is where our
partners were trying to work and had signed contracts with WFP
to distribute food. These provinces were also particularly badly
hit by the famine, (WFP has estimated that up to 80 per cent of
the population might require food aid).
While distributions from 1-12 November
exceeded the target required to meet ongoing needs, this did not
address the need to stock-pile foods in areas which are inaccessible
in winter. The fact that the same areas of Ghor which had not
received distributions since 11 September are also mountainous
brought a particular urgency to the need to get food to these
areas. Combining WFP's ongoing requirements with the need to build
up a winter stockpile created a daily transportation need of more
than 3,000 MT. Even with the vast improvement in delivery rates
in the first 12 days of November, insufficient food was being
delivered to meet this target.
Christian Aid and Islamic Relief
used this analysis to highlight particular areas of need, and
to emphasise the needs for improved delivery rates that would
enable stock-piles to be created for mountainous areas. This work
required a secure environment for convoys, and for that reason
Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and other NGOs called for a pause
in the bombing, curtailment of military action in certain areas
and for warring parties to respect the humanitarian mandate and
allow WFP and NGOs to negotiate access to vulnerable communities.
Over this whole period from 8 October
to 12 November, the average delivery rate was 1,417 MT per day
and for distribution, 1,326 MT per day. This is insufficient even
to meet ongoing food needs let alone create stock-piles and highlights
the need to improve access and increase delivery rates. While
WFP were delivering and distributing as much as possible in the
difficult security context, they could not reach the levels that
they had planned in order to meet the needs they had identified.
13 November-27 November (date of latest information
available from WFP)
The capture of Mazaar, Herat and
Kabul by Northern Alliance forces has not yet brought a secure
environment in which to deliver and distribute food. WFP and NGOs
have not been able to re-deploy all their international and national
staff inside Afghanistan and many NGOs have had their logistical
capacity severely reduced. Insecurity and actual incidents of
military activity damaging aid convoys have led to a significant
reduction in the delivery and distribution rates WFP have been
able to achieve.
As can be seen from the graph, delivery
and distribution rates have deteriorated dramatically from 12
November. In the period from 13-27 November WFP reported an average
daily delivery rate of 1,531 MT and a distribution rate of just
749 MT per day. This is back down below 50 per cent of ongoing
Therefore under the pressure of military
activity and wider security problems, food delivery and distribution
rates have once again fallen significantly below the rates required
to meet ongoing needs. Christian Aid's partners are beginning
to distribute food in Ghor and Badghis, but the situation needs
to improve significantly to enable sufficient distributions to
take place to meet the needs WFP has identified.
Select Committee Submission
Christian Aid started to produce numerical analysis
of WFP deliveries and to map distribution information for the
media and for briefings to MPs from 24 October 2001. At that point
the best available information led Christian Aid to conclude that
the real delivery target into Afghanistan for the 30 days from
18 October was 3,543 MT per day. This target was based on a calculation
which included the 12,725 MT of food stocks WFP had reported were
in Afghanistan as at 17 October 2001. It also included a WFP estimate
of the winter stock-pile required for the mountainous North-West
and Central sectors of 67,000 MT which, at that time, WFP indicated
should be in place by mid-November.
|Winter stock-pile required||67,000 MT
|Food already stored inside Afghanistan
|Total transport requirement by 17 November
|Implied daily delivery target over 30 days
This was the basis of the analysis included in Christian
Aid and Islamic Relief's joint submission to the International
Development Select Committee on 30 October 2001.
Once again it is important to distinguish between delivery
and distribution. The fact that WFP warehouses have remained stocked
throughout the last few months but distribution rates have been
lower than target, illustrates that the key problem has been distribution.
Those distributions that were taking place were predominantly
in the cities that were easily accessible from these warehouses,
not the rural areas.
Subsequent information and analysis
UN estimates of the stock-piles required for winter have
subsequently altered to 55,000 MT. WFP has deployed snow experts
and heavy snow clearing equipment in an attempt to keep access
open but is not certain whether this will be effective on Afghanistan's
poor mountain roads. Until this can be demonstrated, it remains
important to create stock-piles in mountain areas that are accessible.
The high rate of distributions WFP achieved into the central
sectors of Hazarjat in the period up to 12 November means that
it is likely that some stock-piles may have been created in this
key mountainous area. On 16 November WFP estimated that 40 per
cent of the stock-piles required were in place. However, it should
be recognised that if food being distributed represents stock-piles
it cannot also be treated as meeting ongoing food needswhich
would further reduce the extent to which ongoing targets are being
As can be seen from the actual delivery and distribution
rates being achieved over the entire period since September 11
and again from November 13 onwards, it has not been possible to
meet the ongoing needs of all the vulnerable people in Afghanistan,
despite the best efforts of WFP. Similarly it has not been possible
to create the stockpiles needed to safeguard people in areas that
are likely to be cut off by winter snows.
This analysis, shared by Christian Aid and Islamic Relief,
points to the fact that, comparing WFP estimates of needs with
the actual levels of food they report being delivered and distributed
inside Afghanistan, insufficient food is being distributed both
at the time of writing this submission, and for most of the period
from 11 September.
Whether the Afghan people will find ways and means to survive
is a more difficult question to assess. Christian Aid staff returning
from the region highlight the growing perception that distribution
has been relatively effective in urban areas but unverifiable
in many rural areas. It is this continuing gap in our knowledge
that gives rise to continuing humanitarian concern.
Christian Aid, through its partners in Ghor and Badghis is
beginning to re-establish contact with the communities that have
been cut-off from communication over the last two months and who
have received very little food aid in that time. Even in August,
villagers said they feared that they would not have enough food
to last them through the Winter. Until we are able to establish
that they have sufficient food to survive, we will continue to
highlight the need to restore effective delivery and distribution
networks, particularly for such remoter rural areas.
Christian Aid and Islamic Relief
3 December 2001