Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 21st, 2018

UN: 5.5 Million People in Urgent Needs for Financial Aid in Afghanistan

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UN: 5.5 Million People in Urgent Needs for  Financial Aid in Afghanistan

Last Saturday, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator has called international community for urgent financial assistance for nearly 5.5 million hungry people in Afghanistan. He warned to lose the 17 years’ achievements and hopes for peace process if we forget the paralyzing phenomenon. In the meantime, UNICEF has informed from the bad condition of 7000 Afghan children reached Greece as a result of ongoing crisis in the current year. Ministry of economy has also confessed the decline in economic growth in 2018 while the ongoing war and drought are blamed as the main factors for food crisis. The unending war has left nearly 40 thousand causalities within few last years; and on the other hand, droughts has effected at least 22 of 34 provinces.
Unfortunately, the water sources in Afghanistan are heavily dependent on annual rainfall and snowfall and lack of snowfall in the winter season has increasingly intensified the drought issue. Almost all experts believe that Afghanistan has enormously suffered from the impact of climate change in the world and the level of the country’s underground water table has dropped considerably. Water points and fountains across the country have dried up and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dried up completely. Faced with the lack of water, many farmers have chosen to minimize their losses by delaying planting crops and reducing field sizes. Though, a drought emergency task force had been set up by the Government to respond the issue but it seems beyond their ability to cover the whole disasters. 
According to local media reports, a large number of livestock has already perished, fruit trees and fodders has dried up and over 95% of the farmers lives have been effected by the issue. In some areas, it is reported that up to 150,000 heads of livestock have perished in the summer of current year. Many families have been forced to sell the items in their house to buy food. thousands of people migration has been reported since the beginning of May moved to urban centers. Children living within these communities are more vulnerable, having to miss school so that they could find small jobs to help purchase basic household items. Overall, the shortage of water with the increasing insecurity has unprecedentedly intensified the poverty phenomenon in the country.
Among the drought affected provinces, Bamyan, Daykundi, Ghor, Helmand, Kandahar, Jawzjan, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Takhar, Badghis and Uruzgan are of critical priority for nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance. Thirteen provinces, out of a country total of 34 provinces, received less than 30 % of their average annual precipitation in 2018. In Daykundi, around 267,000 people, more than one third of the population of the whole province have been effected by the ongoing drought. In Kandahar  province, water scarcity has displaced between 70 and 100 families within Ghorak district. Thus, in Badghis, nearly 4,000 people moved to Qala-e-Naw due to the drought crises.
However, the current drought crisis gets back to several decades of steady droughts across Afghanistan’s northern, northeastern, central and western provinces but in 2018 it has unprecedentedly intensified leading to a large-scale food crisis. It seems that almost half of 5.5 million hungers are directly linked to drought in 22 provinces of the country. So, the government and humanitarian community should act quickly to ensure this does not degenerate into farther disasters. Delays will just make things harder for families already struggling to cope with chronic poverty.  
The aforementioned factors can have a lot negative consequences in the country. for example, it can force many families to prevent their children from going school and educational centers. Recently, a study had released by the Ministry of Education and the U.N. children’s agency, said that 3.7 million, or 44 percent, of all school-age children are not attending school. It marks the first time since 2001 that the rate of attendance has declined, following years of steady gains in education for boys as well as girls, who were banned from attending school under the Taliban. The survey says girls account for 60 percent of those being denied an education.
The next destructive effect, it fuels the war and violence in the country; so, providing social security would be difficult to achieve without achieving food security for the people of Afghanistan. It is hunger and unemployment that are partly responsible for driving the vicious cycle of war and conflicts in Afghanistan. It is imperative upon the government of Afghanistan to renew its commitment to moving forward and gradual implementation of Afghanistan National Development Strategy as the country’s second most important national document after the Constitution. However, National Unity Government has paid some attention to water infrastructure rather than previous government but within ANDS, the country’s agricultural sector must be given priority and climate change effect should not be neglected.
In last, war and drought are directly responsible for poverty while it has caused many disastrous consequences such as spread of armed violence, huge increase in addiction, domestic migration, increasing the population of cities, brain drains and the vacancy of the countryside. More importantly, it fuels war in the country as the terrorist groups can easily hire unemployed teens to use as suicide attackers, battle forces, or laborers for implanting Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and in some provinces unemployment has also led people to cultivate opium or poppy.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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