“HAWZs and KANDAs (traditional water reservoirs) has been emptied weeks ago, People walk several hours every day to collect few buckets of water from Balkhab River or nearby springs existed in few villages only” Said Mohammad Dawood an elder of Kishindeh district.

Map of Drought affected areas

This year northern Afghanistan is suffering from severe drought, caused by less snow in last winter which followed by lack of rainfall during spring 2011.  [1]Jawzjan, Faryab, Balkh and Sar-e-Pul are among the most affected province according to the assessments carried out by Afghan government, UN agencies and NGOs recently. Harvests have been almost entirely lost in rain-fed, while considerably decreased in irrigated areas. This has led to loss of income for most small farmers who have little or not harvest this year

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People gathered in Kishindeh Bala to collect water transported by a tanker from Balkhab River

The drought badly affected livelihoods both at household and community level. Livestock which is considered 2nd source of income for majority of the families after farming have badly affected due to lack of pasture and feeder for animals.

Supporting livelihoods for dwellers living in rural areas and depending on agriculture is very difficult during droughts and it is a double challenge for communities farming in rain fed areas. However, shortage of food can be remedy by other coping strategies and aids, but shortage of drinking water creates hardship.

Inhabitants in Cahkana cluster of Kishindeh district revealed to an aid worker that vulnerable families have already adopted destructive mechanisms such as selling their livestock, taking debts, migration, selling household assets etc. Unfortunately, those mostly practiced coping strategies seem to be ineffective due to low prices for livestock (as feed price is soured up) and a less employment opportunity withinAfghanistan. During conducting a food assessment survey one of the interviewee admitted that some days when he couldn’t find a work, he had to beg to survive.

Abdul Hamid, another elder from Jadoq village claimed that due lack farming related employment opportunities resulted by complete loss of harvest, people from his village as well as surrounding villages have rushed to cities and even to the neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan for search of work.

Response from government and international community is very slow. However, few rapid and quick assessments have been conducted by various entities but practically no measures have been taken to assist vulnerable people in the affected areas. Inhabitants of the affected areas accuse government and aid agencies for being reluctant toward them.  On the other hand, winter is ahead and some remote areas will become inaccessible in coming months if timely actions are not taken. Further delay in provision of assistance will push the affected communities/inhabitants to further humanitarian crises. The chairman of Javpayai Aliaobd CDC describing the current situation said: “Nowadays, households are consuming their grain stock which left from previous year and it will last for upcoming 3-4 months. More than 50% of household will be in a severe shortage of food from second half of winter until new harvest”.

Khishindeh and Zari districts of Balkh province are among the worst affected districts suffering from both food security and lack of water: “In addition to livelihood, the current drought has also severely affected our drinking water sources in majority of the villages. Said Mohammad Dawood, an elder from Jadooq village in Kishindeh district.  He added, “HAWZs and KANDAs (traditional water reservoirs) have been emptied weeks ago, People walk several hours every day to collect few buckets of water from Balkhab River or nearby springs existed in few villages only”

This year drought adds to the sufferings of millions of Afghans of whom some [2]9 million Afghans – 36 per cent of the population – are believed to live in absolute poverty and a further 37 per cent live only slightly above the poverty line, According to the report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),. The affected people defiantly need a quick response from Afghan Government and international community in a time that both Afghan government and international community have recently intensified accusing each other for widespread corruption in the spending of tens of billons of dollars of foreign aid in Afghanistan since the fall of Taliban regime while, did not improve significantly living conditions of common rural Afghans.


[1] According the NGOs assessments shared at various coordination meetings

[2] http://csis.org/publication/agriculture-food-and-poverty-afghanistan

People gathered in Kishindeh Bala to collect water transported by a tanker from Balkhab River
People gathered in Kishindeh Bala to collect water transported by a tanker from Balkhab River
Thousands of hectares of rain-fed land did not produce any grain this year.
In a normal year livestock is considered 2nd major source of income.
Boys still collect search for water from settled mud in a reservoir in Kishideh,
• One of the water reservoirs in Kishindeh which has bee completely dried weeks ago.
A normal year pasture in the north
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