The IRC welcomes the steps taken by the US Government, de-facto authorities in Afghanistan, international banks, and currency printing companies to facilitate the release of fresh banknotes to Afghanistan.

 Afghanistan has not received any new banknotes since before August 2021, leaving 40 million Afghans dependent on rapidly degrading bank notes. Severe cash shortages have meant that people cannot reliably withdraw cash, while old notes are often illegible or held together with tape. Families impacted by Afghanistan’s catastrophic economic collapse - which has plunged 97% of the population into poverty - increasingly found their money rejected by shopkeepers at a time when food insecurity has skyrocketed. 

Vicki Aken, IRC Afghanistan Director, said,

“Families across Afghanistan have experienced an economic spiral for more than a year. With food prices already 26% higher than pre-August and with millions suffering the impact of drought and the loss of jobs due to the contraction of the economy, having legal tender rejected for purchases was the last thing Afghans needed. 

“Even when people can access cash, that cash is falling apart. The most vulnerable populations get the worst bank notes - and women are often at the very bottom. The simple step of releasing new banknotes into the economy will play a crucial role in supporting families facing hunger, poverty, and the prospects of a long winter to meet their basic needs. It is imperative now that this money be transferred into the country as soon as possible and released into the market.

“However, new banknotes are only part of the solution. While the economic free fall In Afghanistan has slowed, the country remains stuck in a state of crisis. Halting this cycle of crisis requires a wider economic plan. This includes decisions on the replenishment of the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund and wider non-humanitarian funding, and the return of Afghanistan’s frozen assets.”

The IRC’s Economic Recovery and Development programming includes the provision of cash for work, and support to small businesses in Herat, Helmand, Badghis, Logar and Paktia provinces, particularly those owned by women, by provision of start-up grants to enable them to purchase core business items such as sewing machines or livestock. The IRC also provides support to farmers in Logar, Helmand, Herat, Badghis, Nangarhar and Khost provinces, through training on various agricultural methods, climate smart agriculture, provision of drought resistant seeds and cash for agricultural and livestock inputs. 

The IRC began work in Afghanistan in 1988, and now works with thousands of villages across twelve provinces, with Afghans making up more than 99% of IRC staff in the country. As Afghanistan struggles to recover from ongoing conflict and natural disasters, the IRC: works with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects, provides safe learning spaces in rural areas, community-based education, cash distribution provides uprooted families with tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities, and helps people find livelihood opportunities as well as extensive resilience programming.