Climate Change becomes like a real Threat for War-torn Afghanistan
By: Humayoon Babur
Aynuddin Khan, 50, abandoned his birthplace in northwestern Afghanistan due to a severe famine along with his seven family members. The famine was not caused by the ongoing War in Afghanistan, but a recent drought – the latest sign of an apparent climate change – that hit many places in Afghanistan, so also Muqur district in Badghis province, where Aynuddin hails from.
And he and his family are not alone, as the wave of environmental migrants inside Afghanistan is increasing, especially in the west of the country, only In Badghis province thousands have left their villages for the small-town capital of Qala-i Naw, as – due to less precipitation over the last two years – they could not make a living anymore off their farms. Others went further, to neighboring Herat province.
But they all seek the same: basic necessities such as potable water and food as well as some other ways to support their families. The United Nations Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says over 200,000 Afghans Internally displaced within the first seven months of the year. At the same time, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is another aid agency which is functioning in the ground says have already erected six camps for such internally displaced people outskirt of Qala-i-Naw City.
According to NRC in those camps, 18,579 families were assessed by Operation Coordination Team (OCT) through UNOCHA, around 5,000 families are still waiting for assessment. They are settled inside fragile tenets that hardly provide shelter from the intense winds during the night – the name of the province Badghis means a source of the wind – and the heat during the daytime.
Aynuddin recounted that calamity in his home in Muqur began a year ago. “A flood killed 19 villagers and 12 sheep of mine. “ The same flood also destroyed our pastures and the harvested fodder. There is nothing left. If you stay, it means to die gradually. So we were forced to leave. “
As a quick response to the crisis, the NRC has distributed 200 tents, 200 hygiene kits and installed 5 water tanks providing water for more than 1000HHs. In addition, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has distributed 6,000 Afghani ($ 79.21) cash for food to around 900 families. The rest hasn’t yet received any humanitarian assistance.
NRC has already expressed concern over the situation. William Carter, Head of Programme for NRC’s Country Operation in Afghanistan in Kabul said that the upcoming winter will be very testing. More families may have exhausted their livestock and savings and also be forced to flee. “There is a lot of help that needs to go to families that are quickly losing all their savings and assets to a drought. Displaced children and the elderly may be very feeble from being underfed.
Many will be very ill, if we cannot provide a quick humanitarian response.” at the same time, the UN report estimated 2.2 million Afghans would be affected by the drought in 2018.
According to Aynuddin, the problem is not that there is not enough aid around. “Some people here are like wolves who are stealing the aid of the people in need. This is why I doubt the transparency of the aid process,” Aynuddin explained. But Aynuddin has not only complaints but also solutions. “To mitigate the crisis, the Murghab River should be regulated, for example by building dams to irrigate the lands and livestock and prevent such droughts.”
Haris Sherzad, a climate change specialist at United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says Climate change and population growth are the two big challenges for the future of Afghanistan. Both will impact adversely the water sector. Increase in temperature, which is predicted for Afghanistan.
” Afghanistan, as among the most vulnerable countries against the adverse impacts of climate change, has already been experiencing most of the adverse impacts of climate change. It is time to change, change in our lifestyle, change in our policies, and change in our actions.” Sherzad said.
And finding solutions seems to be more necessary than ever, as the current drought effects, according to the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, says, 20 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and is more severe than previous ones. “My ancestors did not tell any tale of severe droughts like the one we have today,” Aynuddin asserted.
Otherwise, a catastrophe might be looming. “A father sold his six-year-old daughter because he had lost everything due to the drought and did not know, how else to support the rest of his family. This is like doomsday for an embarrassment to the government and us.”