Water pumps in Kandahar City are either running dry--since the shallow pumps extend only about eight meters deep--or are supplying undrinkable water. Local sources assert that current conditions amount to the worst drought since 1961. United Nations agencies in the region say that water is available in Kandahar City at a depth below twenty metres. Thus it can be assumed that the water table level has descended to a lower aquifer. Moreover, water levels at Kajaki dam are also at a record low and are twenty metres below normal for this time of year.
In rural areas the situation is under review but is also unfavourable. The Helmand River, one of the major rivers in southwest Afghanistan, can now be crossed on foot in Lashkargah, Helmand province. This phenomenon indicates the severity of the current water shortage.
Pending the receipt of water from snow melt in the Central Highlands, this may mark the beginning of a possible water emergency, which would involve a serious lack of drinking water, in southern Afghanistan.
The World Health Organisation in Kandahar reports that this lack of safe water could result in a new wave of outbreaks of diarrhoea, dysentery, and related diseases. UNICEF and WHO in Kandahar are investigating the situation further.
Meanwhile, in Maruf district in Kandahar province and Shamalzai district in Zabul province, there have been reports of multiple deaths of sheep and goats that are the result of lack of feed. Feed available through grazing has declined due to the drought affecting southwest Afghanistan. Moreover, farmers have insufficient quantities of fodder from the 1999 harvest due to low yields. Fearing an outbreak of pestes des petits ruminants (PPR), an FAO team was dispatched to the affected area along with vaccines to supplement the efforts of local staff of Veterinary Field Units.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.