This Emergency Appeal seeks 7 million Swiss francs to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in delivering assistance and support up to 650,000 people (approximately 92,466 households) affected by flood and drought for twelve months. The operation focuses on the following sectors: shelter, health and care; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and livelihoods and basic needs; disaster risk reduction (DRR) and strengthening the capacity of the National Society. The planned response reflects the current situation and information currently available. It is likely to be adjusted based on further developments and ongoing detailed assessments. Further information will be available in the Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) in the coming days.
The operational strategy
Afghanistan is highly prone to intense and recurring natural hazards such as flooding, earthquakes, snow avalanches, landslides and droughts due to its geographical location and years of environmental degradation.
Climate change also poses a threat to Afghanistan’s natural resources, of which most Afghans depend on for their livelihoods. Afghanistan faces significant impacts of climate change and disasters which impact growth prospects.
It has a continental climate, which combined with its location at the western end of the Himalayas, renders it susceptible to extremes of temperature and rainfall.
It is also important to note that after decades of conflict, the current intensification of fighting and growing insecurity further hampers access to humanitarian aid and essential services. In the current unstable and volatile context, the civilian population is paying the highest toll to the protracted conflict which is significantly impacting their lives and livelihoods.
Needs assessment and selection of people to be reached
Since April 2018, Afghanistan is experiencing an increase in the frequency and severity of drought due to a rise in temperature and decrease in the amount of rainfall during monsoon season. Most areas in Afghanistan have experienced between four to six consecutive seasons of far below average rainfall over the last three years. With below average precipitation and above average temperatures since October 2017, the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), UN agencies and ARCS started monitoring the drought. Over 2018, the situation was closely followed with support from the local metrological department and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET). By the middle of 2018, the protracted drought condition resulted in significant reduction in snow depths, river flows, water level in dams, water tables, and soil moistures. These conditions have already negatively and irreversibly impacted the winter 2017–2018 and spring/summer 2018 agricultural season in Afghanistan.
According to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, as of September 2018, 9.8 million people (43.6 per cent of the rural population) were estimated to be in Food Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phase 3 and Phase 4). An estimated 2.6 million are classified in IPC Phase 4 nationwide; these people require urgent action to reduce their food deficits and to protect their livelihoods. The current Phase 3 and 4 estimates correspond to a 17.4 per cent increase (from 26.2 to 43.6 per cent) compared to the previous analysis for the same time period last year (2017). Projections suggest that from November 2018 to February 2019, the total population in IPC Phase 3 and IPC Phase 4 is expected to increase to 10.6 million (47.1 per cent of the rural population).
The last available report from UN OCHA on 13 September 2018 indicated that the drought affected internally displaced people (IDPs) are estimated at around 266,000. Of these, 84,000 people have settled in Herat city and 182,000 within Badghis province of which 18,579 families (94,945 people) are now settled in Qala-e-Naw City (capital of Badghis province). IDPs are residing in dozens of sites on the outskirts of the cities, or in makeshift shelters within the main cities. This makes it more difficult to reach them in a higher number of catchment areas.
The humanitarian response in 2018 was hampered by underfunding and insecurity. Following revisions to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, a total of almost 3.5 million food insecure people in 20 provinces of Afghanistan were identified as having acute humanitarian food needs, health and WASH issues and their livelihoods by ANDMA and UN agencies. Over 112,000 Afghans were displaced from their homes in Badghis, Herat and Ghor provinces, the worst affected provinces, to places where they could seek help in the city areas of Herat and Qala-e-Now. The response to the drought in areas of origin had been slow, which contributed to a displacement crisis in the Western region, where the shelter response has been inadequate to date, with people continuing to live in scattered sites in dire makeshift housing.
ARCS conducted an emergency needs assessment in nine1 drought affected provinces in December 2018 and January 2019 within the DREF-supported drought operation while providing simultaneous food assistance to an initial 14,000 drought affected people (approximately 2,000 families) in Herat and Badghis provinces through food assistance. Besides, ARCS also provided emergency shelters, health services and household items to around 11,558 people in Herat and Badghis. ARCS deployed one Mobile Health Team (MHT) to provide medical treatment to IDPs in an IDP settlement in east of Herat since Aug 2018, together with some dignity kits to drought affected IDPs in Herat and Badghis provinces.
The emergency needs assessment report indicated that the priority needs of the affected population, who are staying in rural areas and IDP camps, are food, water, health care and livelihood support. During the assessment, it was found that almost 60 to 70 per cent of the water points, respectively, are now dry. Poor hygiene practices, including consumption of unsafe water, low latrine coverage and poor health seeking behaviour have been cited as some of the underlying factors for the high levels of malnutrition in the country. In addition, most of the affected communities in province of the country have very low latrine coverage. The water treatment is equally low, at less than 10 per cent and hand washing practices are also poor.
El Nino, declared in early February this year, brought above-normal snowfall/ rainfall2 to Afghanistan, and this was also reflected in the seasonal forecast for March-May 2019. With poor soil absorption and limited vegetation in many mountainous areas due to the drought, the current rainfall in recent weeks and projections indicate the likelihood of increased and worsening spring floods to come3 . On a positive note, FEWSNET indicates that the above normal precipitation will be beneficial for cropping.
The OCHA and government Command and Control Centre for Flood Emergency report notes that nine provinces have been affected by heavy rains and flooding to date, including Herat and Kandahar provinces. The flood damaged the infrastructure including equipment and amenities which led to the disruption of the routine functioning of these facilities in the affected areas. Several of the public buildings which were damaged during the disaster, have also lost connectivity and are inaccessible due to damages to roads and bridges.
ARCS conducted a rapid need assessment on 1 March which showed mass destructions of house and shelters, loss of lives, public facilities, mosques and displacements of people from their homes and IDPs camps due to the floods. It is anticipated that more rains shall fall in the coming months with little resources on ground to respond the needs of people in different provinces. The resilience of people in most of the provinces is already weak because of earlier protracted drought. There is a huge need in emergency shelter on the ground. Besides, there is continuous population movement from the rural villages to safer places with available humanitarian assistance and better basic services.
Most of the provinces already affected by the protracted conflict and recently drought, people are living in poor shelter without enough basic service. This has continuous and added negative effects on already fragile systems and communities that were displaced due to drought since 2017. Presently, there are many IDP settlements in Herat, Badghis, Kandahar and Farha that were by those affected due to drought. These settlements are growing with added people arriving due to the onset of floods.
In view of the humanitarian needs, this Emergency Appeal responds to communities affected by the drought and floods, with interventions planned to cover almost 13 months (from March 2019 to March 2020). This appeal includes interventions to address the food crises, threat of disease outbreaks, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs, livelihoods disruption and ongoing internal displacement driven by the floods, drought and conflict.
The operations team will continue to monitor the situation to adjust the operation and respond adequately to this, with a link and transition to existing and additional longer-term programming where applicable.
The operational strategy of this Emergency Appeal is the outcome of continuous assessments and data analysis, as well as consultation between the IFRC, ARCS and Movement partners on how to respond to this complex emergency in an integrated manner. Coordination with ICRC and partners began in early 2018 with the advent of ARCS drought response. Consultation for access to operation areas was obtained from ICRC within the Strengthening Movement Cooperation and Coordination (SMCC) plan. The Emergency Appeal aims at assisting around 650,000 people (approximately 92,500 families) who are at risk of food insecurity and livelihood disruption, deteriorating health and hygiene conditions, and limited access to safe drinking water due to factors such as current floods, drought, conflict and economic instability. Overall, this operation seeks to assist the following beneficiary targets within each sector and provinces:
ARCS and IFRC aim to incorporate longer-term resilience-oriented approaches in programming to address some of the underlying factors causing vulnerability. Community-driven sustainable solutions will be used to increase the resilience of crisis-affected people to cope with cyclical food insecurity. The proposed response activities in this Appeal will also reinforce ARCS disaster response capacity and expertise in areas such as emergency shelter and household items assistance, health care provision, WASH and cash-based intervention (CBI), and strengthen its country-wide network of volunteers. These objectives will be closely linked to those of the national long-term (development) operational plan for Afghanistan, ensuring a concerted approach to capacity-building and allowing for an effective exit strategy when this Emergency Appeal is expected to come to an end (March 2020).
The operation defines the target of worst affected population by floods and drought in Nangahar, Farha, Kunhar,
Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Jowzjan, Nimroz and Badghis provinces.
The targeting criteria for household level assistance to floods and drought-affected communities will be defined based on further assessment and in consultation with local ARCS branches and leaders of community-based organisations. ARCS will invest in strong community-based targeting mechanisms to avoid potential selection biases and to meet the Movement’s global standards on community engagement and accountability (CEA). More specifically the targeting will focus on: (i) Emergency Shelter/household items (ii) Acute Water Diarrhoea (AWD) high-risk communities; (iii) floods and drought affected internally-displaced populations (IDPs) and those who lost their livelihoods which affected the household income; and (iv) communities with basic health related issues.
Coordination and partnerships
The IFRC’s Afghan country office is supporting ARCS in implementing health programmes including Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) in northern, north-eastern, central northern, central southern and western regions. Similarly, WASH activities are also being carried out in five provinces; Parwan, Nangarhar, Balkh, Samangan and Baghlan. ARCS partners with Canadian Red Cross together with IFRC in supporting health in emergencies, mobile health teams (MHTs) in 11 provinces including youth health and routine immunisation in Paktika, Kunduz, Kandahar, Kunar, Nooristan, Nangarhar and Laghman.
The ICRC, in its role of lead agency, is present in Afghanistan since 1986 and engages in dialogue with all parties to the conflict having a direct or indirect influence on the humanitarian situation in the country. The key operating areas in responding to the Afghanistan protracted conflict include promote and respect of IHL, health services, in particular for the wounded and sick, ensure physical rehabilitation and social reintegration, monitor the treatment of detainees across the country and maintaining contact with their families, as well as their health and water sanitation conditions. ICRC provides support to the civilian population in improving livelihood and water and sanitation, health, Restoring Family Links (RFL) and tracing activities. The ICRC supports ARCS, as its primary partner in its development and operations with focus on “Safer Access” approach that promotes safer access to persons affected by conflict and other situations of violence, whilst minimising risks for staff and volunteers.
The Norwegian Red Cross has in-country presence supporting ARCS with health interventions, WASH and CBHFA activities in the provinces. The Danish Red Cross extends their support to ARCS in psychosocial support (PSS) together with the ICRC, volunteer management and youth mobilization activities in Afghanistan.
The Government of Afghanistan through its Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) coordinates all interventions by NGO and UN agencies with support from UNOCHA. ARCS is participating regularly in Command and Control Centre for Flood Emergency under the Minister of State for Disaster Management in Kabul. They are sharing and collecting updates with ANMDA and other authorities. ARCS also participate in all coordination meetings in clusters, technical working groups health, WASH, CBI and etc. including in governmentled or other humanitarian organizations meetings. Other agencies implementing humanitarian activities related to the floods and drought response includes UN Agencies: WFP, UNDP, UNOCHA, FAO, WHO, UNICEF, IOM and other INGOs implementing water and sanitation activities while Save the Children, OXFAM, ACF, ACTED, Norwegian and Danish Refugee Councils are providing emergency shelter and household items, and nutritional support project through health centres and immediate food assistance for floods and cash based initiatives are already taken for drought affected people through their cash programmes. ARCS and IFRC held meetings with mobile money service providers to develop an overview of the capacity of the mobile operators. The meetings highlighted the widespread use of mobile money platforms by the communities in Afghanistan for food purchases etc. The mobile money platform is widespread with sufficient network coverage in targeted areas under the operation. Mobile operators indicated that they are able to support the operation through registration of beneficiaries who are not on the mobile money platform and will orient on how the systems work.
Advocacy and humanitarian diplomacy
The relationship between this disaster and the pre-existing conflict situation in Afghanistan has further weakened the resilience of individuals and communities. Humanitarian advocacy with Afghan authorities and international organisations needs to address the criticality of this crisis situation for communities because of series of selfsustaining disasters (flash floods worsened by droughts). Humanitarian diplomacy with Afghan authorities and other actors will be undertaken in consultation with ARCS and the ICRC. This aims to mobilize public and governmental support and resources for humanitarian operations and programmes, and to facilitate effective partnerships for responding to the needs of vulnerable people. ARCS regional branches are collaborating with local authorities and humanitarian actors in floods and drought affected provinces. Information and situation updates are being shared regularly with ARCS National Headquarters. The IFRC Afghan country office will be strengthened with a team member to support these efforts for advocacy, negotiation, communication, formal agreements, and other measures with many players, including governments, international organisations, UN agencies and the public and private sectors