Drought in Afghanistan affecting over million people


Afghanistan faces the threat of serious drought this year after recording the lowest snowfall and rain in years over the 2017/18 winter, officials said on April 23, 2018. At least 22 of 34 provinces are already suffering badly.

In a statement released by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reads: "the extremely dry winter has affected 22 provinces across Afghanistan and now threatens to negatively impact the lives of one million people, with an additional two million who could feel its effects over the coming months."

According to the statement, 23 – 30 % of water sources have gone dry. Food insecurity and reduced access to safe water are beginning to take their toll in the 10 worst affected provinces, where 20 to 30 % of water sources are reportedly dry. The impact on children could be devastating, as these areas have pre-existing high rates of malnutrition. Without adequate nutritious food and safe water for drinking, as well as for hygiene and sanitation, children’s health will only worsen. 

"The priority is to prevent the situation from deteriorating, by responding to the needs of children and families in the worst affected areas," said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan. "Children across the country already face numerous challenges and now they have to cope with this latest threat to their lives," Khodr added.

The impact of the drought couldn’t come at a worse time, as cases of severe acute malnutrition – seasonal malnutrition – rise on average by about 25 % each year in the coming summer months. Some 1.6 million children and 443 000 pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition across Afghanistan. 

"Preventing malnutrition is already a priority in Afghanistan," said Khodr. "We need to make sure that children and families get the access to nutritious food, safe water and health services that they need. The impact of malnutrition can last a lifetime, which is why it’s critical that we identify and treat at-risk children now," Khodr added. 

A drought emergency task force has been set up by the government to coordinate and align the response across all sectors, including education, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security and agriculture. 

UNICEF and partners in the nutrition cluster estimate that emergency nutrition assistance is needed for 92 000 children and 8 500 pregnant and lactating women. UNICEF estimates also show that between July and December 2018, some 121 000 acutely malnourished children under five and 33 000 pregnant and lactating women could need life-saving nutrition services.

The UNICEF led water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) cluster has indicated that some 875 000 people could need assistance in the next three to six months. UNICEF and partners are scaling up their operations to respond to the emergency nutrition and WASH needs.

An estimated 100 families from the Bala Murghab district of Badghis have been forced to move to Herat to find alternative work due to failed crops and to access safe drinking water. The situation is further complicated, as a result of escalating conflict that often occurs at this time of year, leading to increased displacement and reduced access for humanitarian workers. 

Among the affected provinces, Badghis, Bamyan, Daykundi, Ghor, Helmand, Kandahar, Jawzjan, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Takhar, and Uruzgan are of critical priority for nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance. 

Thirteen provinces, out of a country total of 34 provinces, received less than 30 % of their average annual precipitation in the period October 2017 to end February 2018.

Featured image: Aasif Iqbal J / Flickr

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.


Your support makes a difference

Dear valued reader,

We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.

The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.

If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.

Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum.

Other support options include Patreon pledges, one-off payments using PayPal and purchasing products from our webshop.

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Teo Blašković

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us on Patreon

support us on patreon

or by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:

Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *