Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Severe Weather Getting Disastrous

It is not only terrorism that has influenced the people of Afghanistan; there are many other issues as well that have largely disturbed the people, and will keep on doing so unless there are measures carried out to control them. In some cases, the government has the capacity to show its role and effectiveness while in some others it needs to wait before it can acquire the capabilities. However, in the cases where it can play its role, it has been dormant and not shown any considerable responsibility. One of the same issues is a lackluster response to natural disasters. Though natural disasters are mostly unpredictable and cannot be stopped, different measures can be carried out to limit their influences and damages, if any.

Afghanistan has a severe cold weather and many parts of the country get covered by heavy snow every year. There are many remote districts that mostly get disconnected from the other parts of the country because of the snow. The central highlands and the northern parts of the country suffer the most in this regard. This year, as well, the snow has started disturbing the lives of the people in these areas in different ways.

According to a statement by an Afghan official, Rehmatullah Hasher, snowfall and subzero temperatures in the Darzab district of northern Jawzjan province have left 27 children dead, and roads connecting villages to health centers has been blocked as more than 50 cm of snowfall has hampered the movement of villagers. This is really tragic and shows what an extreme cold weather can do in Afghanistan.

As Afghanistan is suffering from limited resources and unpreparedness people seem to suffer more than expected when they face any natural disaster. The current snowfall and avalanches in certain parts of the country have taken many lives that could be saved. As, there is no effective mechanism to respond to the emergencies in most of the remote areas of the country, the disasters have proved to be gigantic and the poor people have suffered misery and agony.

It is really tragic in Afghanistan that common Afghan people have not only been victimized by the wars and conflicts but natural disasters have also made their lives fragile. Whether it is flood, avalanches, famine or even earthquake, the severest of the shocks shake the existence of the poor and the destitute. They are the most effected, in two different ways. First, they do not possess a strong and reliable shelter and other facilities that can safeguard them against the natural disasters, which make them easy victims. Second, the facilities that should be there after the disaster to minimize the level of destruction, never reach them, as they are at the remotest of the areas.

Leave the disaster aside, even when there are severe weather conditions, which cannot be even termed as disasters; the loss of life and property incurred by the poor Afghans is really immense. Almost every year severe cold weather victimize many poor people as they do not have enough capacity to secure themselves. As the people in the affected areas, because of their wretched and torn shelters and no fuel or wood to burn, are victimized, there is no support from the relevant officials to provide them the facilities to fight against the death. The result is misery. And when the severe cold weather turn into disasters in the form of avalanches in some parts of country, the incapacity of the government to help its people out of the disaster is exposed to a large extent.

There are many lives that can be saved through proper and timely efforts. Moreover, there are many other areas as well that are necessary to be given proper attention by the government so that such disasters and incidents should be properly handled. Among them making a very well-equipped and properly trained disaster management unit is the most important one. At the same time making the different parts of country accessible through proper roads is also an important one. Many places happen to be in the remotest of the areas, where the rescue teams and equipment take a very lengthy time to reach as there are no proper roads.

Though security has been the most dominant issue in Afghanistan, there are many other issues as well that kill more people than the lack of security. The proper attention of the government in that regard and its services can save many lives. It requires to institutionalize its efforts and put to practice National Disaster Management Plan. Department for Disaster Preparedness must be made fully functional and must be equipped and capacitated enough to carry out its responsibilities during and even before disasters. The developed countries of the world, through institutionalized efforts, have minimized the risks of disasters and have the capacity to react rapidly when such disasters take place and thus save the valuable lives of its people as much as possible. Therefore, the government of Afghanistan must also pay consideration and concentration in such areas and must make sure that poor people do not lose their lives worthlessly.