• Despite increased efforts of humanitarian partners, living conditions for families displaced by the drought remain harsh.
• Families displaced by the drought have consumed their food assistance and negative coping mechanisms like marrying off girls are on the rise.
• The attack on Ghazni City in August trapped thousands of families in their homes during days of heavy fighting.
• The UN officially launched Awaaz Afghanistan, the first inter-agency nationwide call centre that people in need can reach tollfree by dialling 4-1-0.
• The number of 25 aid workers killed in 2018 has surpassed the total figure of 2018, when 21 aid workers were killed in the line of duty.
Drought response reaches 1.2 million people
In the past six months, the drought which has gripped large parts of the country displaced more than 260,000 people in Badghis, Daykundi, Hirat, Ghor provinces. Most of the displaced families currently live in displacement sites in Hirat City, Hirat, and in displacement sites scattered in and around the provincial capital of Badghis, Qala-e-Naw.
Early on, humanitarian partners started daily water trucking to the sites and food distributions and more recently assistance has been ramped up across all sectors, including distribution of tents and emergency shelter, provision of sanitation and nutrition services, deploying mobile health teams and ensuring referral to health facilities. Child friendly spaces are being put up in the sites, as well as safe learning spaces for students.
To get a better understanding of the population movements and to facilitate the access to assistance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) established six flow monitoring posts on major highways connecting Hirat City to the rural areas and the drought affected provinces of Badghis and Ghor in September. Newly displaced families passing by these posts are issued with a registration card and given relevant information on where to request assistance.
Displaced families ate all food, have not found any opportunities to gain a living
Despite the efforts, living conditions for the displaced families in the two cities remain harsh and more needs to be done: “The impact of the ongoing drought spans the north and west of the country leaving communities in deep distress,” said Toby Lanzer, Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan. “The drought has forced a quarter of a million people from their land, and for the displaced, the need for shelter is critical as winter approaches.” The biggest concern voiced by representatives of the displaced families at a community engagement workshop in Hirat City in September was food: both the families who had received cash for food or in-kind food rations since they arrived in Hirat City, report that they have since ran out of food. Many of the families who received cash to buy food, paid debts or for health services, or bought material for their makeshift shelters.
Most of the families have not been able to find livelihood opportunities, other than sending children to work, beg or collect trash and women to clean or wash clothes for households in the city, they say. With the little money they make, the families maintain a diet of bread and tea and are unable to buy fruit, vegetables or meat.
According to the discussions, most displaced families are satisfied with the amount and regularity of drinking water on the sites and the hygiene kits they received. There are growing concerns amongst the displaced families, however, regarding the legal tenure of them residing both on Government owned and private land and increased needs of assistance in the coming winter months.
Aid both in displacement sites and areas of origin to avoid creating pull factors
Of the 2.2 million people most vulnerable and affected by the drought, humanitarian partners prioritised 1.9 million girls, boys, women and men for assistance from August until end of October. By beginning of October, some 1.2 million people had received some kind of humanitarian assistance, including more than 600,000 people who had received cash, food or livelihood support, according to the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster.
More than three quarters of the food assistance reached people in rural areas, where families depending on agriculture are struggling due to the drought. The approach of delivering assistance both in urban displacement sites and in rural areas of origin, decreases the creation of pull factors that can arise from distributions or assistance being delivered in specific areas, only, and can help families staying in their rural homes.
International donors show solidarity with drought-affected communities
In May, the humanitarian community in Afghanistan published the revised Humanitarian Response Plan to include activities responding to the drought, seeking US$117 million of additional funding. According to funding reported on OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS), some $45 million have been received by partners to date and another $43 million are pledged in response to the drought, including from the CERF and AHF (see article in funding section). In addition, in October, the European Commission announced €20 million ($23 million) in emergency aid to Afghanistan due to the drought.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.