KABUL: More than two million people are facing severe food insecurity in Afghanistan, needing humanitarian assistance for survival, the Relief Web reports.
A drought is affecting two out of three provinces across the country, where below average snowfall and a precipitation deficit of 70 percent has been registered in most parts. Due to La Niña conditions, the report said, the main wheat planting season of 2017/2018 has been compromised — lasting from October to February for the fifth consecutive year.
Faced with the lack of water, farmers have chosen to minimise their losses by delaying planting crops and reducing field sizes.
Abdul Majid, the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) coordinator of UN FAO, said: “In many cases there was nothing farmers could do but watch the seeds dry out.”
Livestock farmers and pastoralists like the Kuchi tribe have been hard hit, as pasturelands have partially or completely dried up, leaving flocks with little or no feed.
As a result, the condition of animals has worsened and reduced their milk production, which has led to distress sales and death of livestock. Sheep prices have fallen from 25 to 40 percent and fodder rates have doubled.
“The animals are too weak to walk to their usual pastures in Badakhshan province and herders have to rent trucks to bring them there,” explained Majidi, the agricultural director of Kunduz province.
Some 1.5 million goats and sheep in the northeastern region are struggling to find food and more than 600 out of nearly 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from the lack of water.
“At the beginning of May, the first migration movements were reported from Badghis and Ghor provinces to Herat City due to the drought and depleted food stocks of families.
“By mid-May, more than 21,000 people had been assessed by humanitarian partners and verified as having migrated due to the drought,” the report added.
In the 20 provinces most affected by the drought, nearly 15 million people rely on farming, livestock or labour opportunities in agriculture.
Around two million people might become severely food insecure due to the drought, it warned, with humanitarian partners ramping up their response in a bid to reach 1.4 million of the most vulnerable people. An amount of $115 million is urgently needed to provide food support to help families through the lean season and supply them drinking water for six months.