Afghanistan’s drought cri­sis

The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD - Mazar-i-Sharif

– Af­ter his wheat crop failed and wells dried up, Ghu­lam Ab­bas sold his an­i­mals and joined thou­sands of other farm­ers mi­grat­ing to cities as Afghanistan’s worst drought in liv­ing me­mory rav­ages the war-torn coun­try.

A huge short­fall in snow and rain across much of the coun­try over the nor­mally wet colder months dec­i­mated the win­ter har­vest, threat­en­ing the al­ready pre­car­i­ous liveli­hoods of mil­lions of farm­ers and spark­ing warn­ings of se­vere food shortages.

Like hun­dreds of farm­ing fam­i­lies in Charkint vil­lage in the nor­mally fer­tile north­ern prov­ince of Balkh, Ab­bas, 45, has moved with 11 fam­ily mem­bers to the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal Mazar-i-Sharif to find work.

“I don't re­mem­ber a drought as se­vere as this year’s,” said Ab­bas, who has been a farmer for more than three decades. “We never had to leave our vil­lage or sell our an­i­mals be­cause of a drought in the past.”

As dry con­di­tions and high tem­per­a­tures per­sist, there are grow­ing con­cerns about the spring and sum­mer crops that will be har­vested later this year.

Afghanistan’s 2018 wheat har­vest is al­ready ex­pected to be the low­est since at least 2011, ac­cord­ing to the Famine Early Warn­ing Sys­tems Net­work, set up by USAID in 1985.

Faced with an es­ti­mated short­fall of 2.5 million tons of wheat this year, more than two million peo­ple could be­come “se­verely food in­se­cure” and would be in “des­per­ate need” of hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance in the next six months, the United Na­tions has warned. – AFP

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