The International Rescue Committee (IRC), in consortium with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), has implemented emergency response mechanisms across 8 provinces in Afghanistan. Through funding from the European Union (EU), this program aims to support households recently displaced as a result of conflict or natural disaster in meeting their basic needs. The EU is supporting these emergency response mechanisms through a total contribution of 7 million euros, of which IRC received 2.15 million

Owing to decades of violent conflict and extreme weather events, Afghanistan ranked second in the IRC’s Emergency Watchlist 2021, exemplifying the dire need for humanitarian assistance in the country. Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have only served to exacerbate the situation. With the country’s economic and security situation on a decline, the Afghan population suffers from a multitude of issues, including increased displacement, food insecurity, and poverty. An estimated 18 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, with groups such as women and children often being the most vulnerable to protection risks such as violence and forced labour.

Having worked in Afghanistan since 1988, the IRC supports thousands of villages in nine provinces across the country. Through a high level of engagement with local communities, the IRC runs a number of programs aimed at providing emergency cash assistance to meet essential needs, supporting households to re-enter the labour market, providing community safe spaces and protection advice, and supporting health facilities and communities to respond to COVID-19 and other health concerns.

Together with DRC and ACTED, the IRC was able to reach over 150,000 beneficiaries through direct cash transfers. Cash assistance has allowed families to meet a diverse set of needs according to the preferences of their households, allowing them to begin regaining their livelihoods. These distributions were also supported with activities aiming to provide information about protection services. Individuals who had been affected by conflict and disaster were targeted through providing them information on their rights, and by referring them to specialised service providers best posed to handle their specific cases.

Vicki Aken, Country Director of IRC Afghanistan, said:

“Through our EU-funded cash assistance program, we have been able to provide crucial support to families who no longer have a support system due to displacement. Cash support has the added advantage of giving them freedom to choose items they feel they need the most for themselves and their families. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread losses in income, and many families have been severely affected as a result. With food insecurity on the rise in the country, cash assistance has proven to be an effective tool to prevent families from falling into further destitution.”