The number of drought-affected families who moved to Hirat City has reached a total of 7,400.
Humanitarian needs in rural areas are high and families need assistance to help them stay close to their homes and fields.
The ongoing drought will have repercussions that will be felt years to come and humanitarian and development action need to go hand in hand.
Attacks on health facilities and health workers have become more deliberate and violent this year.
The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF)-Afghanistan allocated $17 million to the drought response.
Drought response must bridge the gap
The effects of the ongoing drought that grips large parts of the country will have repercussions that will be felt years to come: families have completely depleted all their material resources, sharing of resources is something only few families can afford to do, traditional coping mechanisms are proving increasingly ineffective and the social structure of communities is profoundly changing. With the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of families in peril, the situation calls for an urgent response that bridges the gap between life-saving humanitarian assistance and more longer-term development action.
Currently, the effects of the drought may be most visible in the outskirts of Hirat City, the economic centre of the Western Region. First families arrived in May from neighbouring Badghis and Ghor provinces (see Bulletin No 7, May 2018), putting up makeshift shelters along the road leading to Qala-e-Naw, Badghis. Their number has since grown to nearly 7,400 families or more than 50,000 people. They live on dozens of sites, some hosting twenty families, often hidden behind the walls of unfinished compounds, others hosting hundreds of families in large open spaces. Temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius during the day and constant wind drives dust into the minimal shelters and eyes of the residents. “When the harvest failed, I sold my animals,” said Mohammed Qadis, a farmer from Muqur District, Badghis, now living in Muslemabad informal site. “The prices were way too low, down to one fifth of the what it would have been a year ago. But I could not wait to sell, 20 sheep had already starved because I had no fodder for them and no water.” He stayed on his plot of land until the money ran out. Then he decided to leave for Hirat City.
Families have used up the humanitarian assistance provided
Visible signs of humanitarian assistance in the sites in Hirat City are the 1,700 white family tents scattered across the sites that humanitarian partners distributed to families upon their arrival and the small tankers that drive to each site daily to distribute clean water.
Mobile health teams have been deployed, too, but despite seeing hundreds of patients every day, they struggle to cover all the sites.
Children show signs of malnutrition and illness, including skin diseases and eye infections.
Many families are living on one meal a day, consisting of bread and water, only.
Eating fewer meals and the low quality of the food affects the nutritional status of breast feeding and pregnant mothers, many of whom cannot nurse their children. “Some families received food when they arrived in Hirat. Without the United Nations and the NGOs, these families would have not received anything,” said Dalmat Mahmaed, a village elder living in Hirat representing Mr. Qadis’ and 800 other families from the same district. “The food lasted a few weeks. But now, all the food is eaten and they again have nothing.”
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.