The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Afghanistan confronts climate crisis amidst other challenges

Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan experienced their initial snowfall of the winter season on January 28, following a season that had commenced nearly two months earlier. Despite its delayed arrival, this unusual event provided some respite by alleviating the city’s unbearable pollution levels. Over the following days, significant portions of the nation received varying degrees of snowfall and rainfall. However, since then, the weather has been erratic. Although an intense winter chill lingers, the snow and rain have ceased. Afghanistan is on the verge of facing another about of climateinduced emergencies, and the specter of the country’s third consecutive year of drought-like conditions is no longer in doubt, according to The Diplomat magazine. “During the past two decades, droughts have been sporadic, with their intensity worsening over the years. For instance, the drought in 2018 directly affected 22 of the 34 provinces and displaced at least 300,000 people internally,” the Diplomat Magazine further added. According to The Diplomat, the year 2021-22 recorded the worst drought in 30 years, affecting 80 percent of the country, and it coincided with the main wheat season harvests in May–July 2021, which are critical months for food security and livestock production. In the peak winter period, between October 2023 to midJanuary 2024, Afghanistan received only 45 to 60 percent of the average precipitation compared to previous years, well below the 40-year average. Based on the magazine, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on January 23, warned that the unseasonably dry and warm winter could have devastating consequences for Afghanistan. It said that the severe impact could be felt on rain-dependent agriculture, especially the seasonal cash crops, affecting the prospect of pasture recovery. In a country where many are dependent upon subsistence agriculture and raising livestock, such variable and extreme climatic conditions are bound to deteriorate food insecurity and trigger massive population movement. According to the United Nations, increases in drought-related shocks have been reported in 15 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, with the highest increases reported in Parwan, Kunar, Baghdis, Baghlan, and Samangan compared to 2023. The Diplomat also added that a direct impact of rising temperatures is the suboptimal water and sanitation conditions, which are diminishing with the altered precipitation patterns across the country, the for years, residents of Kabul have dug deeper to access groundwater. In other areas of the country, such fast-depleting water columns directly affect agriculture, the raising of livestock, and the lives of people. Worse still, there is little prospect of respite from this punishing phenomenon. According to the Afghanistan Drought Risk Management Strategy (2019-2030) of the U.N’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2030, annual droughts in many parts of the country will likely become the norm. This, combined with other natural hazards such as flooding and earthquakes, will further limit the coping and earning capacity of the population. “[Islamic Emirate] has displayed little understanding of the climate variability problem, although it claims to have rolled out policies related to climate change, such as enforcing limits on emissions from coal-fired heating systems. Otherwise, its policies to deal with climate issues have been mostly extemporaneous, including the occasional provision of small monetary handouts to victims of drought, earthquake, and floods,” The Diplomat further said. In 2023, the OCHA claimed that the number of people facing high food insecurity during the lean season has decreased compared to previous years, mostly due to “extensive, timely and efficient delivery of humanitarian food and agriculture assistance.” Yet, with dwindling support from the global community, maintaining this progress could prove difficult. As a result, the majority of Afghan citizens may be excluded from any aid initiatives. Persistent high food costs, skyrocketing unemployment, and economic instability could prompt a mass exodus of people from Afghanistan, seeking refuge from climaterelated crises. Crucially, assisting Afghans in coping with climate-related emergencies could contribute to tackling the underlying causes of ongoing conflict and instability over time. Sayed Asef Fekrat

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.