Earthquake in Afghanistan
In June 2022, the citizens of Khōst, Afghanistan faced the aftermath of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake. The tragedy that claimed more than 1,000 lives is responsible for the annihilation of hundreds of houses, increased poverty in Afghanistan and the need for aid to support Afghanistan’s already large homeless population.

Poverty in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is infamous for having some of the most brutal poverty in the world, with many families living in houses solely made out of mud. Anthony Pantlitz, an immigrant from Guyana, compared the poverty in Afghanistan to “living in the 17th century” because of their lack of basic necessities such as electricity, plumbing and water.

In 2020, nearly half of the population of Afghanistan was living below the national poverty line. During this year, the mortality rate for children under 5 years old was 58 out of every 1,000. Many Afghan citizens have very low expectations for an improvement of the country’s economy, with 87% reporting a struggle to make enough money to upkeep their household. It is estimated that 95% of the people in Afghanistan suffer from consistent monetary issues and are frequently unable to purchase food.

The Earthquake’s Effects

The earthquake in Afghanistan created even more difficult living conditions for the country’s poverty-stricken citizens. These neighborhoods, already treated as outcasts, note that their future looks grim based on their treatment prior to the disaster. The citizens say that many outside countries have come to their aid with short-lived items, like food and tents, but have not done much more to help them rebuild their now-destroyed region.


UNHCR has prepared to build earthquake-resilient houses in Afghanistan. Funded with $14 million, the project is able to provide the cost of not only the supplies for the homes but around $700 to give each family in order to cover the payment for builders’ labor. With this budget, they will begin to construct over 2,300 homes, 2,000 in Paktika and 300 in Khōst. The houses will be earthquake-resilient and “winterized,” built in order to withstand the grueling winter weather.

UNHCR is also increasing various types of aid for poverty in Afghanistan. The agency, acting on an “emergency response,” has provided water, shelter, heat and much more to families in danger. A very important issue to the UNHCR is providing these items during the winter months, as many families have no more than a blanket to survive the freezing temperatures; the agency has provided “blankets, stoves, solar lanterns, insulation kits and support for heating, clothing and vital household supplies.”

However, UNHCR still urges others to help. A single organization cannot fight an entire crisis on its own, especially because the company estimates that Afghanistan needs around $8 billion to fund its humanitarian plan. With this budget, UNHCR will be able to send out emergency items at a much more rapid pace. UNHCR accepts donations towards decreasing the number of citizens who fall into poverty in Afghanistan.

– Aspen Oblewski
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Earthquake in AfghanistanU.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, announced that the U.S. would provide $55 million in aid after a fatal 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan on June 21, 2022. The disaster destroyed more than 10,000 houses and killed more than 1,000 people, making it the deadliest earthquake to hit Afghanistan in two decades. The earthquake poses a challenge for the Taliban, who have since asked the international community for aid.

Distribution of Funds

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on June 28, 2022, that it will allocate $55 million in aid for emergency relief resources such as shelter, food, water, clothing and hygiene products in Afghanistan. A portion of the aid will go toward sanitation measures to limit the spread of waterborne diseases. Funds will go directly to partner civil societies and nonprofit organizations operating in the region as the U.S. does not have official diplomatic or humanitarian ties with the ruling Taliban.

Additional Aid Efforts in Afghanistan

The devastating earthquake exacerbates the economic and humanitarian crises that have pummeled Afghanistan since the Taliban first rose to power in August of 2021. Afghani citizens already face food insecurity, with national hunger rising from 14 million in July 2021 to 23 million in March 2022.

With more than half of the population facing food insecurity, international assistance narrowly managed to avoid full-scale famine in the country in the winter of 2022. Poverty rates in the country are estimated to stand at almost 97% as of 2022 due to prolonged drought and instability caused by recent political upheaval and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 25, 2022, the United Nations initiated an emergency appeal for $110 million in aid to help the provinces most affected by the disaster. The U.N. will disseminate the funds in the next three months in order to help 360,000 Afghanistan citizens. This emergency appeal is integral to the U.N.’s Humanitarian Response for Afghanistan, which calls for a total of $4.4 billion in emergency aid.

Barriers to Aid

Unfortunately, the Taliban’s strict control over the country complicates all international humanitarian efforts. In late March 2022, the Taliban’s Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund announced to all foreign aid agencies in Afghanistan that all humanitarian projects must be done in close coordination with Kabul’s authorities. This announcement came a week after the governor of the province of Ghor, Ghulam Naser Khaze, attempted to exert total control over several local NGOs.

Governor Khaze insisted that the NGOs turn over their funds and only adopt projects chosen by the local government. Prime Minister Mullah’s directives and Governor Khaze’s actions in Ghor represent a policy framework known as the “Monitoring and Control Plan of NGOs.” Kabul’s Taliban government formulated this plan in the fall of 2021 to consolidate all NGO activities under the Taliban’s authority.

Sanctions and other measures aim to prevent the Taliban from fully implementing its NGO-control framework. As a result, international financial systems are especially diligent, making it difficult for humanitarian groups to access the funds efficiently. The Taliban continues to actively insert itself between nonprofit organizations and the aid they seek to provide via various formal and informal decrees, further frustrating the fund distribution process.

How to Help

As a result of international sanctions on the Taliban, online fundraising sites cannot be transferred to Afghanistan banks. The best way to help those affected by the earthquake is to donate directly to NGOs in the region. Below is a list of NGOs helping those struggling in Afghanistan.

  • The World Food Programme: The earthquake exacerbated the food crisis that has gripped Afghanistan for months. The World Food Programme mitigates the issue of food insecurity in Afghanistan by delivering food to those in need within just a few hours.
  • The Red Cross and Red Crescent: The Red Cross and Red Crescent have been working in Afghanistan since the U.S. evacuated the country in the summer of 2021. These programs are already organized to deliver food, other critical supplies and mental and health services to those affected by the earthquake.
  • Islamic Relief: Islamic Relief is a Muslim aid network founded in the U.K. in 1984. The organization operates various humanitarian relief programs in more than 45 countries. It already has a fund to help supply food aid, cash and emergency shelter to those facing the impacts of the earthquake.
  • International Medical Corps: The International Medical Corps stood as one of the first organizations to respond to the disaster. It immediately began coordinating with domestic emergency responders and providing trauma care to affected communities.

The international community is rushing to help those affected by the crisis. Still, everyone can help in their own small way. Be sure to remain an active and informed global citizen by vocalizing the importance of foreign aid funds to local government representatives. Through the efforts of nations, NGOs and ordinary citizens, Afghanistan can look to a brighter tomorrow.

– Mollie Lund
Photo: Flickr