A woman holds her child while he receives an MUAC test to assess for malnutrition at a mobile medical outreach clinic provided by Action Against Hunger in Afghanistan, December 2021. Photo: RM / DEC / Arete

It has been one year since the U.S withdrew from its 20 year presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan government collapse and the Taliban seizure of power in Kabul. After an immediate scramble to leave the country, it quickly became clear that the biggest threat to the Afghan people would be an economic crisis.

Before August 2021, much of the Afghan economy was dependent on foreign assistance. The shock of the US withdrawal, ensuing sanctions and freezing of foreign exchange reserves after the Taliban seized power has left millions of normal Afghans in dire need.

The impact of decades of war, unpredictable climate, and recurrent drought have combined to force nearly 20 million people into high levels of acute food insecurity (according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification). Malnutrition is widespread, and families are desperate, with the World Food Programme reporting that 1 in 3 Afghans are hungry, with 2 million children malnourished.

The global landscape has also changed. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a food crisis has been felt around the world, with World Food Programme supply chains particularly badly affected — disrupting their ability to deliver vital aid to Afghanistan.

Despite this, and despite complex security and logistical challenges, NGOs and charities remain committed to stay and deliver aid to the Afghan people. Arete has stayed with them to tell their stories, and to tell the stories of the individuals who need support in the face of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Through our journalists, photographers, and videographers, Arete has been working in Afghanistan to help ensure that this does not become a forgotten crisis. We pride ourselves on telling the stories that make a difference — staying in places that are difficult to work in — especially when attention begins to drift away. Personal stories, told through quality content are the only way to re-engage people and move them to action.

The following photographs were taken by Arete while working with NGOs and UN agencies over the last year.

World Food Programme: September 2021

Afghans continue to struggle to receive money as cash shortages persist. Crowds gather outside a bank in Afghanistan, September 2021.
Photo: RM / WFP/ Arete
Drought is affecting two out of three provinces in Afghanistan. A local farmer cuts dried wheat grass in a field in Afghanistan, September 2021.
Photo: RM / WFP/ Arete
A woman begs for money on the street in Afghanistan, September 2021. Men and women across the country struggle to find work.
Photo: SN / WFP / Arete
Wazir, a 32-year-old mother of five, does embroidery as her children sit next to her in their home in Afghanistan, September 2021. Wazir and her family are struggling to source food and she says there is no work for her, her husband, or her children anymore.
Photo: SN / WFP / Arete
A butcher in September 2021. Vender and customers both suffer as food prices are forced up, due to the unstable political situation.
Photo: SN / WFP / Arete

Disasters Emergency Committee: December 2021

Families hope to receive medical treatment for their children, Afghanistan, December 2021.
Photo: OK / DEC / Arete
The foot of a child being treated for malnutrition in Afghanistan, December 2021.
Photo: OK / DEC / Arete
A boy at an IDP Camp in 2021. More than 8 million people are on the brink of famine as drought, conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic cause a catastrophic rise in hunger.
Photo: RM / DEC / Arete
IDP camp, Afghanistan, December 2021.
Photo: RM / DEC / Arete
Mahnaz prepares food outside her home compound in Afghanistan on 24th December 2021. DEC provides support to member organisations such as Action Against Hunger who provide feeding programs and mobile medical outreach support.
Photo: RM / DEC / Arete

CAFOD — Catholic Aid Agency: May 2022

Armina holds a small bowl in her hands in, Afghanistan, May 2022.
DEC member CAFOD has worked with its partner Caritas Germany to provide cash distributions for families to buy food in Afghanistan, where 95% of people do not have enough to eat.
Photo: RM / CAFOD / Arete

Staying in Afghanistan and telling the stories that need to be told is a vitally important task. Monitoring the changes that take place in a region and reflecting them in visual and written content that does them justice is a challenge that takes tact and understanding. If your project demands that you report on these changes, Arete can support you.

Our award-winning journalists, photographers and content providers are eager to help you make a difference.

Contact us to find out how we can tailor our expertise to meet your needs.