Drought threatens to displace thousands of Afghan families
Thousands of Afghan families are facing internal displacement due to severe drought that has gripped 25 provinces in Afghanistan, according to a new report.
An assessment of five provinces in Afghanistan conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) sheds light on the material and human impact of a drastic reduction in rainfall.
It comes as the country reels from a new wave of Covid-19 and raging country-wide conflict.
The IRC assessment, which is comprised of interviews with 484 people in provinces in the West, South and East of the country, suggests that the drought has caused levels of food and water scarcity not seen since the drought of 2018 - that displaced a quarter of a million people.
Additionally, since most Afghans are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and cattle-grazing as source of income, many livelihoods have been left "decimated", according to the IRC's assessment.
Of those surveyed, 83% said they had seen community members leave to find better access to food and water in the last three months.
40% of respondents had already seen the impact of dwindling water resources, with 81% of those with children under the age of 5 reporting diarrhoea and illness owning to a lack of access to clean water.
Provinces such as battle-weary Helmand are hosting large number of internally displaced people, forced to leave their home because of food insecurity, the IRC report said.
Worryingly, families are now likely to resort to extreme measures of survival, such as child marriage and child labour, with 3% of those surveyed by the aid agency saying they would consider marrying off their daughters to make ends meet.
Nasir Rizaee, IRC Afghanistan Deputy Director, said that the drought and potential displacement was another "fresh trauma" for Afghanistan.
"The effects will be especially intense and far reaching: nearly half the population is already experiencing food insecurity and people are struggling to make ends meet," he said.
He warned that there was "very real" risk that millions faced an emergency and said that the IRC expected to see cases of child malnutrition to increase significantly.
"As we tackle the immense fallout left by the drought, conflict and Covid-19, the international community must do more to acknowledge that Afghanistan represents the modern face of humanitarian crisis."