Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Drought and Flash Floods EPoA update n° 2 Emergency Appeal n° MDRAF005

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Summary of current operation and revision made to emergency plan of action:

This operation update is issued to inform two and half-month progress on operation activities under emergency appeal.

This operations update no. 2 informs on the activities accomplished as per reporting period for the Drought and Flash Floods reporting on the Emergency Appeal Plan of Action (EPoA) issued on 17 March 2019 reflecting the operations. First revision of EPoA was done on 10 May 2019 to extend the operation in four new provinces affected by the floods the timeframe will remain same up to 31 March 2020. The sectors cover under EA are: Shelter and household items, Livelihoods and basic needs, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) to ensure that the planned programmes are still coherent and relevant to the current situation and for the longer term.

Description of the disaster

Afghanistan’s climate can be characterized by hot and dry summers and cold winters. Most of the annual precipitation takes place in the northern region in the form of snow. 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 is also posing a threat to the country’s people and ecosystems. Climate change predictions such as changing temperature and precipitation pattern might lead to extreme weather event such as drought and flash floods. Changing weather is also affecting the productivity of agriculture, of which most Afghans depend on for their livelihoods, causing food security problem. Over the past decade and a half, droughts have become more frequent and more serious. It is likely this trend will continue, creating food crises, prompting large numbers of people to flee their homes, and increasing the risk that water conflict will exacerbate existing ethnic tensions. The worst drought in a decade, prolonged conflict and poverty have pushed families across Afghanistan to the brink. About 13.5 million people are severely food insecure, 6 million more than in 2017 and they are surviving, for the time being, on less than one meal a day1 . Displaced families living in temporary and poorly insulated shelters are facing the risk of harsh weather but also the high risk of flash flooding, especially those residing on dry-river beds.

Afghanistan is experiencing a major livelihood crisis primarily caused by the severe drought, which limits food production and depletes farmers and livestock keepers of assets and livelihoods. However, the years of civil conflict and instability as well as the severely degraded condition of much of the land have compounded the impacts of the drought, leading to the food security crisis situation. The flood season in Afghanistan primarily runs between March and June due to snow melt and rain. Several factors have combined to increase the severity of potential flooding in 2019, with serious early floods already occurring in March. Following two years of severe drought, the influence of global weather patterns has seen above average precipitation across much of the country in 2019. Given the increased likelihood of above average temperatures, as well as above average rainfall and snow at higher elevations, the risk of flooding is elevated through until the end of the rainy season (April-June) in the western, northern, and central areas of Afghanistan.

Humanitarian needs in flood-affected communities are compounded by the loss of resilience from drought and conflict. With many flood-risk areas already affected by the severe drought in 2017/18 and ongoing conflict, there are serious concerns about increasing food insecurity, malnutrition and the spread of communicable diseases, including acute watery diarrhoea/cholera. Many families are affected by several different types of incidents, with resulting increases in protection concerns and a reduced ability to absorb shocks. Flood response activities will continue to face access constraints in many areas due to ongoing conflict and related displacement, as well as damage to transport infrastructure in remote areas from flooding.

According to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, as of September 2018, 9.8 million people (44 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 per cent increase (from 26 to 44 per cent) compared to the previous analysis for the same time period last year (2017). FEWS NET January 2019 projections suggested that from November 2018 to February 2019, the total population in IPC Phase 3 and IPC Phase 4 increased to 10.6 million (47 per cent of the rural population). The results of the IPC analysis show that Afghanistan is experiencing a major food and livelihood crisis. This crisis has been primarily caused by the severe drought, which limits food production and depletes farmers and livestock keepers of assets and livelihoods; however, the years of civil conflict and instability as well as the severely degraded condition of much of the land have compounded the impacts of the drought, leading to the food security crisis situation we are witnessing today. Afghanistan is currently facing one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crisis, with alarming increase of food insecurity and loss of livelihoods, as a result of the combined effect of widespread conflict and insecurity, recurrent natural disasters and ensuing mass displacements.

Conflict and insecurity remain widespread, although the number of events is lower compared to the same period in 2018. Although the conflict events have spread in geographic extent, particularly in the north, northeast, west, and south region of the country. This leaves many households frequently adjusting to the changing local conditions that alter daily life including market access, labour opportunities and availability, access to grazing lands, and ability to participated in the ongoing agriculture season. Many IDPs affected by conflict, as well as undocumented returnees are most likely to have a below-average household harvest. The food security and livelihoods situation has significantly deteriorated over the past months, driven mostly by the severe drought in 2018. An estimated 13.5 million people are severely food insecure and require emergency assistance.2 The humanitarian response during the first half of the year has been hampered by underfunding and insecurity. Following revisions to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, 20 provinces of Afghanistan are food insecure and identified as having acute humanitarian food needs, health and WASH issues and their livelihoods.