Afghanistan drought emergency appeal: Situation analysis and proposed responses





Following the official government declaration of drought in Afghanistan in June 2021 (the second drought declared in four years) and worsening humanitarian situation, ACTED is launching a Drought Response Appeal to provide urgent lifesaving and recovery assistance to the most severely affected populations.

Following significantly lower than average precipitation and higher than average temperature over the 2020-2021 winter in Afghanistan, associated with the La Niña weather event, severe drought conditions have been experienced throughout 2021, especially in the western, northern and southern regions. As the country slowly recovered from the severe drought in 2018 and lingering effects that remained, and were aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict, this second drought in four years is expected to have a significant impact across a large part of the country.
The drought conditions are anticipated to have an impact on both rain-fed and irrigated agricultural crop production, especially cereal production during the main growing and cultivation season (May to September), and on pasture conditions and livestock health. Overall, the country faces severe food insecurity, malnutrition and lack of economic opportunities, with 93% of the population (35 million people) living on less than 2 USD a day and in need of a social safety net and 18.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. With 80% of the population living in rural areas, approximately 50% of Afghan households derive part of their income from agriculture, which employs around 40% of the country’s workforce and accounts for 90% of the country’s manufacturing, as well as making up for around 25% of the country’s GDP.

Food security and agriculture

The 2021 harvest for a range of crops is expected to be below average due to the effects of drought.
According to the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC), total wheat production in 2021 will be 25% less than in 2020 based on initial estimates, and overall the country is facing a national shortfall of 2.46m MT of wheat due to the poor harvests, and a 62% reduction in area under cultivation compared to 2020. Additionally, decreases in rice and vegetable production are also anticipated to be high, with rice production down 20%, vegetable production down 25-30%, and fruit production expected to be down a staggering 80% in some locations. In addition, livestock mortality will further erode food security and increase risks of malnutrition, with livestock production to be down 30% across the most affected provinces.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

While Afghanistan has sufficient water for its population and production in aggregate terms, access, storage and efficiency of water use are extremely low due to mismanagement, destruction of systems, and lack of infrastructures and investment, with 88% of irrigation done through informal systems. Overall, it is estimated that 90% of Afghanistan’s water consumption is for agricultural purposes, of which over 50% is lost due to inefficient systems and management. When faced with drought conditions, these issues result in severe WASH needs and water scarcity, especially in rural areas, leading to a lack of access and availability of water.