In Afghanistan, a menacing drought is overshadowed by violence

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Written by Humayoon Babur

Agriculture, and particularly animal husbandry, play a crucial role in employing people living in rural areas in wartime Afghanistan.

Agriculture directly impacts approximately 36 million people, the entire population of the country. All household incomes both directly or indirectly depends on a healthy environment to supply them with fertile soil, clean water, clean air, and healthy livestock.

However, according the UN 5.5 million Afghans are in immediate need of assistance due to extreme weather as Afghanistan’s livestock industry continues to suffer from the effects of climate change. Extreme heat and lack of water have been killing livestock across the west of the country.

In recent months a menacing drought has which has been overshadowed by the ongoing violence, turmoil and political instability has forced many to abandon everything and flee their homes.  Recently, in the west and central of the country, extreme drought hit both inhabitants and livestock hard making food production difficult and creating an insecure environment forcing at least 250,000 Afghans to leave their homes in search of aid.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the livestock industry is responsible for  “7.1 Gigatonnes of Co2-equivalent per year, representing 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions of greenhouse gas emissions”.  

“Livestock population has rapidly dwindled, which affected the food security of millions of Afghans, and we do not believe this adds to climate change.” Says Tawheed Ali Azeemi, Livestock Service Director at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.

Azeemi believes that the industrial production of neighboring Iran and Pakistan contribute more to climate change that negatively affects Afghanistan’s spatial enclave and climate. Another neighbor, China burn more fossil fuels than the US and EU combined.

With all attention turned towards upcoming elections and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, climate change has become a devastating, and ignored fact for Afghans. If we neglect to respond immediately, the consequences will increase with time and our efforts may be too late.


Humayoon Babur is an independent Afghan journalist.

Follow him on Twitter: @Humayoonbabur

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