Photo: WFP

UN reports severe drought in 25 Afghanistan provinces

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that 25 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan are experiencing either “severe” or “catastrophic” drought conditions, affecting more than half of the country’s population.

In a report on Tuesday, OCHA stated that Afghanistan is listed among the top 10 countries experiencing extreme weather events and natural disasters, which include droughts, storms, avalanches, and earthquakes.

These natural disasters compounded by worsening economic hardship and the effects of four decades of war, have left half the population in acute hunger, including 6 million people on the brink of famine.

Afghanistan ranks fourth among countries most vulnerable to crises and eighth on the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index for countries least prepared to cope with climate change.

Last year, the country faced its worst drought in three decades, and it is now enduring its third consecutive year of drought.

“At least 60 percent of the population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture, but changes in rain and snow patterns are severely eroding livelihood practices, which is worsening food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease,” part of the report reads.

Afghanistan is now facing the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crisis, with a record 29.2 million people, representing over two-thirds of the population, requiring humanitarian assistance to survive.

The country also has one of the highest rates of malnutrition, with approximately 3.2 million children and 840,000 pregnant and nursing mothers suffering from severe acute malnutrition or moderate acute malnutrition.

OCHA highlights the importance of immediate action to protect the population, especially vulnerable groups such as female-headed families, internally displaced people, and individuals with disabilities, from further harm caused by climate change.

Despite the urgent need for assistance, the revised 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan requires US$3.23 billion to aid 21.3 million people in Afghanistan, but only 23 percent of the appeal has been funded so far.