Record levels of food insecurity persist in Afghanistan with almost half the population – 19.7 million people- facing acute hunger, requiring emergency food assistance. Families are being forced to resort to desperate coping measures in order to feed their children.
Urgent action is needed to revive the economy and boost financial and banking sectors. People need jobs, salaries must be paid, small and medium sized businesses must be saved, and the banking sector must be shored up so that people are able to rebuild their lives. The war in Ukraine continues to put additional pressure on the country’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs, and fuel prices.
Christina Lamb, Foreign Correspondent for The Times, and Paul van Zyl, Co-Founder of The Conduit, will be facilitating a panel discussion analysing the situation. They will be joined by Mary-Ellen McGroarty, Country Director to Afghanistan for the World Food Programme, and Shukria Barakzai, Afghan politician, journalist and prominent Muslim feminist, who will be providing their expert insight into what action needs to be taken to ease the acute situation in Afghanistan and address the food insecurity facing an entire nation.
Paul Van Zyl is a Co-Founder of The Conduit and its Chief Creative Officer. The Conduit serves as a home for a diverse community of people passionate about social change. Having grown up in apartheid South Africa, Paul trained as a human rights lawyer and went on to serve as the Executive Secretary of South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He then co-founded the International Centre for Transitional Justice, an organisation that works in over 40 countries that have endured massive human rights violations under repression and in conflict. Paul is also a Co-Founder and CEO of Maiyet, an ethical luxury fashion brand that cultivates traditional design and culture by partnering with global artisans. He has received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and served on its Global Agenda Council on Fragile States, and is a London Tech Week Changemaker. He holds a law degree from University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, an LLM in international law from University of Leiden, an LLM from New York University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Santa Clara School of Law.
Christina Lamb is Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Sunday Times and one of Britain’s leading foreign journalists. She is the best-selling author of Farewell Kabul, The Africa House, Waiting For Allah and The Sewing Circles of Herat. She also co-wrote the international bestseller I am Malala with Malala Yousafzai and The Girl from Aleppo with Nujeen Mustafa. Her book – Our Bodies Their Battlefields; What War does to Women was shortlisted for the Orwell prize and Bailie Giffor.d. Her latest book The Prince Rupert Hotel for the Homeless comes out in June. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an honorary fellow of University College, Oxford and was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2013.
Mary Ellen McGroarty is the Representative and Country Director for WFP in Afghanistan. Mary Ellen has many years of humanitarian leadership and front-line operational experience in conflict-affected countries. Prior to her appointment to Afghanistan, Mary Ellen served as WFP’s Deputy Country Director in South Sudan where she steered WFP’s emergency and resilience operations and contributed to designing programmes linking peace and food security. Previously, she served as WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Chad overseeing emergency and resilience programmes in response to multi-crises, including in Lake Chad and the Sahel. In addition, Mary Ellen has held leadership and management positions in logistics, programme and procurement, and has worked in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi and at WFP headquarters in Italy. She was a member of the design and implementation team for WFP’s ground-breaking programme for support to smallholder farmers across 20 pilot countries, Purchase for Progress (P4P), and expanded local food purchase and food systems initiatives.
Shukria Barakzai is an Afghan politician, journalist and a prominent Muslim feminist and former Ambassador of Afghanistan to Norway.