Foreign aid organizations say food shortages and early snows may leave eight million Afghans -- 30% of the population -- on the brink of starvation this winter. Famine could easily overtake violence as the country's top problem.
"This year people are paying on average 1½ times as much as they were in December, 2007," Susannah Nicol, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program (WFP) in Kabul said. "An average household in 2005 was spending about 56% of their income on food. That figure has risen to 85%."
With winter settling in early, the WFP has rushed 36,000 tonnes of food to areas that are normally inaccessible during the winter because of heavy snow. But international aid agencies still estimate five to 10 million Afghans out of a population of 26.6 million might not have access to enough food before the winter is out.
Britain's Royal United Services Institute says, “If the international community is found wanting, we can expect increased frustration and anger from a population which once saw the international intervention in Afghanistan as a source of hope."
Last week, the Afghan Health Ministry said more than 1.6 million children under the age of five and hundreds of thousands of women could die as a result of food insecurity and a lack of medical care.