WFP sending emergency aid to storm-hit Afghan province

KABUL - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food aid to devastated communities in Afghanistan's northeastern province Badakshan, where a hailstorm and heavy flooding have so far killed an estimated 29 people, injured 40 and destroyed over 1,000 homes.

WFP will distribute some 88 metric tons of food - including wheat, oil, salt and pulses - to nearly 9,000 people for one month.

The aid follows a joint assessment of affected areas carried out over the weekend by three teams, two of which travelled by helicopter throughout the province. Eight districts have been identified as severely affected by the floods. These include Faizabad, Baharak, Jurm, Yomgan, Argo, Darayem, Teshkan and Darwaz.

The teams reported widespread destruction across 65 affected villages. Thousands of livestock died, nearly 28,000 trees were wrecked and over 3,290 jirib (658 hectares) of land laid waste by Thursday's storm.

"Badakshan is one of the most remote and poverty stricken provinces in Afghanistan. The floods will have a devastating effect on people who already live with a great deal of food insecurity," said WFP Afghanistan representative Charles Vincent.

"WFP is working closely with the Governor of Badakshan, regional authorities, other UN agencies and NGOs to ensure that the community will be rebuilt," Vincent said.

With an estimated 92 km of road also destroyed, a WFP bulldozer is working to clear and rebuild roads washed away by heavy mud. WFP trucks are also collecting non-food items such as blankets, tarpaulins and tents from Faizabad airport and delivering them to flood- affected families.

In Darwaz, one of the most remote districts in Afghanistan, WFP is taking part in a complicated operation with food distribution partner FOCUS to bring 20 tons of food to 400 families. The food will have to go via Iskashem in Tajikstan, as roads are blocked on the Afghan side of the border by prolonged snow.

"The hard work in Badakshan has only just begun. Once the initial emergency aid has been delivered, WFP and partners will also be working hard to rehabilitate lost infrastructure. There are roads, canals and bridges to be rebuilt," said Vincent.

Major donors to WFP's operations in Afghanistan include: the United States (US$126 million), Japan (US$34 million), India (US$26 million), the European Commission (US$17 million), Italy (US$8 million), Canada (US$6 million), the International Committee of the Red Cross (US$3 million), the United Kingdom (US$3 million), Switzerland (US$3 million), Saudi Arabia (US$2 million), Denmark (US$2 million), Luxembourg (US$1 million), Netherlands (US$1 million) and Ireland (US$1 million).