For struggling Afghanistan families, next meal a matter of faith

For struggling Afghanistan families, next meal a matter of faith

As winter sets in, Afghan widow Kubra needs to find fuel to heat the single room where eight family members live in the central province of Bamiyan. The flour they bought months ago is running out, so food is also becoming scarce.

“We got two sacks of flour last spring which we are still using. After that, we have to have faith that God will help us,” the 57-year-old said in a room lined with rice sacks to keep out the cold.

Their firewood was stolen when they left their home amid the chaos that engulfed Afghanistan, as the Taliban swept towards Kabul on their way to seizing back control of the country.

Stories like Kubra’s are increasingly common in a country struck by severe drought and where money has run dry.

Before the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government in August, the economy relied heavily on foreign aid. But with the international community wary of the group and the United States imposing sanctions on some of its leaders, that support has all but disappeared.

The United Nations estimates nearly 23 million Afghans – about 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly nine million at risk of famine as winter takes hold.

Life for Afghanistan’s poor has always been hard; Kubra’s family works on farms in the spring, earning potatoes instead of money.

But it is getting worse. Vegetables such as cauliflower are out of reach, and plastic sheets protect their home from the freezing weather and snow. There is so little space in the single room that Kubra sleeps at her sister’s house at night.

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Photos by: Ali Khara/Reuters

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