Afghanistan: Drought - Apr 2018Ongoing
La Niña has had a devastating effect on this year’s planting season, with a rain, snow and sleet deficit of 70 per cent prevailing across most of the country. With last year’s wheat production already reported to be 57 per cent below the five-year average, the 2018 harvest is forecast to be even lower: down from 4.2 million metric tons to 3.5 million metric tons. (OCHA, 25 Apr 2018)
Forecasts indicate below-average to average precipitation for the remaining weeks of the spring wet season. Along with cumulative precipitation deficits, the below-average forecast is reflective of a low frequency of storms entering the region, increasing the risk for extended periods of dryness that could impact agricultural production. (FEWS NET, 4 May 2018)
In the past week, another 120,000 people have arrived in Qala-e-Naw City, Badghis, due to the drought. In Kandahar, assessment teams verified the arrival of 2,800 drought-displaced people from Badghis and Ghor and 1,400 in the district centre of Maiwand, Kandahar. The total displacement due to the drought has reached a total of 275,000 people, exceeding the number of people displaced by conflict in 2018 by 52,000 people. In Qala-e-Naw, partners are ramping up assistance across all sectors and are deploying additional staff, though the gaps remain significant. Further, WFP plans to further scale up food assistance in areas of origin to allow families to return to their villages, reaching up to 100 per cent of the population in the most affected districts. In Hilmand Province, IRC started a new project to assist 2,100 drought affected people. (OCHA 9 Sep 2018)
Badghis, Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Hilmand, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Kubduz, Takhar, Herat, Ghor and Farah are among the worst affected provinces...The government launched a USD 100 million appeal in mid-April through MAIL for immediate livestock protection for an initial two months of assistance for fodder/feed support and an overall demand of USD 550 million for a 10 months fodder / feed support throughout the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. (IFRC, 16 May 2018)
In the 20 provinces most affected by the drought, nearly 15 million people rely on farming, livestock or labour opportunities in agriculture. Of these, an estimated 2 million people will become severely food insecure due to the drought. Humanitarian partners are ramping up their response across the country...trying to reach 1.4 million of the most vulnerable girls, boys, women and men struck by the drought. Partners urgently need $115 million; the majority of this amount will provide food support to help families through the lean season and to provide them with drinking water for six months. (OCHA, 25 May 2018)
The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) has been revised to to include response to the drought and now calls for $547 million. The additional funding will allow humanitarian partners to incorporate assistance to 1.4 million people mostly affected by the drought[.] (OCHA, 31 May 2018).
Food security outcomes in the agropastoral areas are worse than is typical during the spring and summer months. Livestock productivity and body conditions are below normal levels in many areas due to very poor rangeland conditions, leading to low income from livestock sales and limited household availability of livestock products. Most rangeland areas have received well below average rainfall amounts, except for localized parts of western, southwestern, and southeastern provinces. (FEWS NET, 31 May 2018)
Although several significant precipitation events during late spring helped alleviate dryness across the country, late rainfall was not sufficient to mitigate seasonal dryness in many parts of the country, which is most severe in the northwest but also significant across much of the north, northeast, southwest and central provinces. Field reports confirm that area planted for rainfed wheat is less than that of last year due to dry soil conditions and the use of extended areas for grazing, while a significant proportion of planted rainfed areas may have reduced yields due to dryness. (FEWS NET, 6 Jun 2018).
The intense drought between April and September is expected to further aggravate the already poor malnutrition status within the 20 affected provinces, and the impact may extend to December. As a result, an increase in acute malnutrition caseload between July and December 2018 is expected. In addition, the severity of acute malnutrition among children under five may get worse, resulting in cases that are more complicated. As of 19 July, it is reasonable to assume that the increase in magnitude and severity of acute malnutrition and disease will stretch the capacity of health facilities to provide treatment, and that in the medium to long-term, children will face heightened vulnerability to morbidity and mortality. (WHO, 19 Jul 2018).
In Hirat City, Hirat, humanitarian teams identified more than 51,000 people who have recently migrated to the city from drought-affected areas in neighbouring Badghis and Ghor provinces. The families are living in dozens of sites on the outskirts of the cities in makeshift shelters. In Qala-e-Naw, Bagdhis, teams identified nearly 7,000 people who have moved from rural areas to the provincial capital due to the drought. Cash distributions have started for these displaced families. The Government has distributed wheat grain to 15,000 families in four districts of Badghis, and WFP is preparing to distribute 1,250 metric tons of food in two districts of the same province. (OCHA, 23 Jul 2018)
Poor households in the northern areas will be the most affected by the drought due to reduced household wheat stocks and income from on-farm labor where food consumption deficits will continue through the next harvest (Spring 2019). Poor households in central areas of the country dependent on remittances from migrant workers in Iran are expected to see a decrease in remittances and further weakening of the Iranian rial (IRR) against the U.S. Dollar (USD) and Afghani (AFN) to drive low incomes. (FEWS NET, 31 Jul 2018)
As of 6 August, approximately 4,000 people arrived in Qala-e-Naw, Badghis, during the past week, reportedly displaced by drought from Muqur district. In Kunduz Province, more than 10,000 people have reportedly been displaced between different districts due to the drought. (OCHA, 6 Aug 2018)
As of 12 August, some 1,400 families reportedly arrived in the centre of Abkamari district, Badghis, from villages affected by the drought in the district. In Farah City, Farah, assessment teams identified nearly 600 people displaced by the drought from within the province. Further, around 280 displaced people were identified as having been displaced from their villages in Shahrak district, Ghor, due to the drought. In Qala-e-Naw, Badghis, authorities designated a new site for 1,700 families who arrived recently in the city due to the drought. (OCHA, 12 Aug 2018)
The drought continues to force people from their rural homes to the urban centres in Badghis, Ghor and Hirat provinces where their number surpassed 100,000 since May, according to humanitarian partners. The situation of drought-induced IDPs in Hirat city, Hirat remains dire. In the past week, six children reportedly died in the informal sites due to sickness, in a fire accident and at birth. WASH, health and protection services on the sites are picking up, but there are large gaps notably of emergency shelter. DRC-DDG and UNICEF have started protection monitoring on sites housing some 35,000 people. (OCHA, 19 Aug 2018)
An estimated 275,000 people have been displaced as a result of the drought in Afghanistan. Newly displaced people arriving in Hirat during the last week have been reported, but not confirmed. In response to the drought, WFP started food distributions for 47,000 people in rural areas of Ghor Province. (OCHA, 17 Sep 2018)
In the first half of September, an estimated 120,000 people have been displaced from rural areas of Badghis to Qala-e-Naw as a result of drought. As of 20 September, an estimated 253,600 people are currently displaced from drought affected areas across the Western Region. A further 28,000 people displaced by the drought have returned to their homes in Muqur district of Badghis, in the last two weeks, upon assurances of food distributions in their home villages. Existing response capacity at more than a dozen sites in Qala-e-Naw and its surroundings is limited: around 42,000 people have insufficient access to safe drinking water and over 130,000 people have no access to sanitation facilities with people living in makeshift shelters. (OCHA, 24 Sep 2018)
Due to drought, high levels of food assistance needs will persist through the start of the lean season. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present throughout Afghanistan due to declining purchasing power, disruption of normal livelihoods due to conflict, and poor rainfed staple performance and will contribute to the increased food assistance needs as compared to recent years. The worst-affected households will likely experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) as large food deficits emerge with the onset of winter in. (FEWS NET, 30 Sep 2018)
On 16 October, United Nations’ Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) have allocated $34.6 million in emergency aid to support 2.2 million people affected by a severe drought. With these funds, 7 national NGOs, 15 international NGOs and 4 UN agencies will distribute food and seeds, maintain primary health services, provide emergency shelter, safe drinking water, improve hygiene and sanitation, treat severe malnutrition, and help farmers protect their livestock. (OCHA, 16 Oct 2018)
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present throughout Afghanistan due to declining purchasing power, disruption of normal livelihoods due to conflict, and poor rainfed staple performance and will contribute to the increased food assistance needs as compared to recent years. Poor household dependent on rainfed wheat production, particularly in northern, northeastern, and northwestern areas, are expected to experience difficulty meeting consumption requirements until next year’s spring harvest. The worst-affected households will likely experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) as large food deficits emerge with the onset of winter (IFRC, 01 Nov 2018).
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Afghanistan remains one of the worst funded of the large crises around the world. Millions of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, mostly due to conflict, rapid-onset natural disasters and situations of protracted displacement. So far this year only 29% of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is funded; but on top of the initial response plan, a drought is further escalating needs.