Severe Flooding in Afghanistan Hunger Hotspots Is Set to Worsen, Warns WFP

Published May 21, 2024

KABUL: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warns that the devastating floods that struck the northeastern and northwestern regions of Afghanistan in the past two weeks, impacting more than 80,000 people, are likely to intensify in the coming months, with a significant impact on food security. The affected districts, most of which are “hunger hotspots,” are already in crisis levels of food insecurity.

The worsening climate crisis has led to erratic weather patterns, which have become the norm across the country. Unusually high rainfall, which followed a dry winter that left the ground too hard to absorb rain, led to massive floods earlier this month. This was further compounded by unseasonably warm temperatures that melted mountain snow, swelling rivers that then swept through villages, burying them under mud.

“I found my grandson’s body in the next village,” said Raima, a mother of two who spoke to the U.N. World Food Programme in Laqaiha village, Baghlan. Her grandson was swept away by the torrents while playing in the yard. Raima stood in her field, once filled with wheat and vegetables that fed their family, now entirely destroyed by the floods.

“With one disaster after another hitting these communities, they’re being pushed back into destitution. Recent improvements in food security in Afghanistan now risk being lost,” said Hsiao-Wei Lee, the U.N. World Food Programme Afghanistan country director. “These families need emergency assistance to survive, and in the longer term, they need investments in community infrastructure that help protect their homes, lands, and livelihoods.”

Within hours of the latest floods, the U.N. World Food Programme provided affected people with fortified biscuits and children with nutritional supplements. Working with local bakeries, the U.N. World Food Programme also distributed bread to communities most hard hit. By the end of last week, the U.N. World Food Programme started giving food rations to people in the affected districts, and providing cash assistance where markets were still functional.

As the climate crisis worsens, the losses from flooding are expected to increase every year. The floods come after years of drought that impacted most of the country.

The U.N. World Food Programme is investing in climate adaptation projects designed and built by communities to shield them from the impacts of the climate crisis. These include protective walls, dams and irrigation canals. During the Baghlan flood, a U.N. World Food Programme-supported protection wall safeguarded 670 families and 400 acres of agricultural land.

For the flood response, the U.N. World Food Programme needs an additional $14.5 million to cover emergency food and nutrition assistance and resilience building projects.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s leading humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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