Afghans appeal for aid as drought tightens grip

Thursday 06th Oct 2011 by theWeather Club

The government of Afghanistan is appealing for £92m in aid to feed 2.6 million people this winter as the country faces its worst drought for a decade. The agriculture minister described the situation as extremely serious, with 14 provinces in the north and east making up roughly half of the country being hit by drought. Food shortages in the region have already forced many farmers to sell their livestock, leaving them dependant on food aid to keep alive during winter.

Agriculture minister Mohammed Asif Rahimi said that Afghanistan had not been able to develop the systems necessary to deal with shocks like this on its own. "Lower harvests due to drought, and rising food prices world-wide, have created an emergency for Afghans in the north," he said, adding that food support would be needed for the next six months.

The World Food Programme has also issued an urgent appeal for assistance saying that it is already facing a shortfall in food aid as an earlier appeal was not answered in full. Figures suggest that the extra 2.6 million hungry people would bring Afghanistan's total of those struggling to find enough food to nearly 10 million. Local farmers are saying that the situation is worse than the last very dry year in 2001.

The drought also has security implications, as the Taliban and other insurgents have made strong gains in recent years in areas affected by drought, particularly in the north-east, which is likely to affect the delivery of food supplies to those who need them. In many areas wells have dried up, and people will have to move off their land to survive.