10 million people in Afghanistan face severe acute food insecurity after floods and drought

10 million people in Afghanistan face severe acute food insecurity after floods and drought

10 million people in Afghanistan (population 35 million) are facing severe acute food insecurity following 3 years of drought and recent floods.

Three years of drought have contributed to massive crop failure, economic hardship, hunger and loss of life, forcing 266 000 people from their homes, Afghan Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said March 28.

In March 2019, extreme weather deepened extreme hardship, when above normal rain and snow fell on soil with limited vegetation or ability to soak up the water, bringing flash floods to nine provinces, killing at least 63 people and displacing at least 281 000 to makeshift camps with inadequate services.

The worst affected provinces by recent floods are Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, Herat and Badghis. More than 16 000 houses were swept away and 8 670 damaged with approximately 250 000.

Temperatures are rising, leading to changes in snowmelt, and rainfall is getting more erratic, with an increased risk of floods and droughts, the organizations said, adding that repeated disasters have eroded people's capacity to cope.

"Millions of people need both immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance and a way out of this protracted crisis," said Afghan Red Crescent Secretary-General Dr. Nilab Mobarez. 

"The floods are the latest disaster to bitterly test the resilience of people already stretched to breaking point by drought. It's extremely worrying because more floods are expected."

Across many parts of the country, people lack safe water, proper sanitation and healthcare, which contribute to catastrophic levels of malnutrition.

"The floods should be the wake-up call that triggers a massive investment to help people who at the moment are out of sight in an under-estimated, silent crisis with limited access by humanitarian agencies or media," said Ariel Kestens, IFRC Head of Country for Afghanistan.

"They are out of reach because of conflict and out of scope because this is a large, slow-onset disaster, and because many people in need are displaced by the disaster."

As of March 19, more than 122 600 people across 14 provinces have been identified as being affected by the March floods and in need of humanitarian assistance, UN OCHA said.

The highest number of affected people are in Farah, where almost 52 000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. A further 32 750 people in Kandahar and 18 340 people in Helmand also require assistance.

Featured image credit: Elham Shaheem

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