The Many Reasons for Starvation in Afghanistan

Population: 32,225,000
Christian Percentage: Unknown
Dominant religion: Islam
Persecution Ranking: 9

The news has predicted probable famine in Afghanistan for the second winter in a row. As you read this article, there might be as many as 15-20 million people in that South Asian country who lack adequate food. Most of those who suffer, 80 percent, are women and children. One of the “givens” of such situations is that those without political power suffer the most. Limited resources go to those who caused the crisis in the first place. Taliban officials will not go hungry this winter. The situation grew far worse after Western troops left Afghanistan in 2021. Relief agencies have far less ability to work in Afghanistan.

The reasons for famine are many, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Some of the blame dates to the 1980s when the USSR destroyed much of Afghanistan’s irrigation infrastructure. One wonders why the irrigation systems were not operating during the US’s 20 years of occupation. Wheat needed more water than opium poppies, and it became more lucrative for farmers to grow poppies for export and import foodstuffs. Growing poppies is very lucrative anyway, mainly since the West constantly demands expensive narcotics.
To their credit, the Taliban has tried to eradicate the growing of poppies, and they reduced taxes on wheat. That makes bread more affordable to a degree. Worldwide, less grain will be available because of the war between Ukraine and Russia. That will drive the price up.

The United States blames Afghan banks for money laundering and funding terrorism. They have slapped severe sanctions against these banks, resulting in Afghanistan not having a working economy. The West also provides sanctions because of the Taliban’s increasing restrictions on women’s rights to education and work. In a country where so many men have died in needless fighting, there are thousands of households led by women. Without work, women cannot feed their families. Last winter, some households had to choose between having enough food and heating their homes.

If things continue this way, the ongoing cycle of distrust between the US and Afghanistan’s government will lead to more suffering. American offers to rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure after the withdrawal never happened. The Taliban has not fulfilled its agreement either; they have allowed Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to regroup on their soil. Unless the two sides cooperate, there can easily be a deadly alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, funded by the narcotics trade. Starvation will only continue in such a scenario.

Let us pray fervently for:

  • Pray for Afghan farmers to grow food rather than opium poppies (the Bible, Amos 4:7).
  • Pray for women and children to be cared for in this grim situation (the Bible, Deuteronomy 24:19).
  • Pray for an Afghan government willing to serve the needs of the ordinary people (the Bible, John 13:14).