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Afghanistan: Rapid Assessment Regarding Information and Communication Needs During Natural Disasters (April 2021)

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Located in a seismically active and mountainous region, Afghan people are at risk of avalanches, earthquakes, drought, flooding and other extreme conditions. The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index ranks Afghanistan as the 10th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change, which could exacerbate needs driven by decades of conflict, pervasive poverty, previous natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2018 – 2019 drought, for example, internally displaced more than 300,000 Afghans and increased "crisis” levels of food insecurity in 22 out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations projects that lower than average levels of snowfall and precipitation caused by the 2020 - 2021 La Niña may cause a dry spell that could undermine the May-June 2021 harvest. This would increase food insecurity, depress local economies, and drive displacement – particularly in drought-prone areas of the country.

Lessons learned exercises conducted after the 2018 - 2019 drought indicated a gap in communications with affected communities. As of 2021, there is still little known about the information needs of affected populations during natural disaster response. To inform spring emergency planning for a possible drought, the Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) working group (WG), in collaboration with REACH, decided to conduct an assessment looking back at communications and feedback processes that were in place during the 2018 - 2019 drought.
The following assessment was designed to help inform future AAP approaches to natural disasters.


This assessment used a remote key informant (KI) based methodology and purposive-convenience sampling for primary data collection. Two sets of KIs were identified for inclusion, with a separate survey tool developed for each set of KIs (for a total of two survey tools used in this assessment).

One set included KI interviews with 2,016 community leaders (i.e. elders, religious leaders, government officials, etc.). Survey participants included 79 persons with a disability (self-reported) and 48 women from 414 districts in 34 provinces of Afghanistan The second set of KI interviews included 57 implementing partners (i.e. local humanitarian workers, government officials, etc) who participated in the humanitarian response during the 2018 - 2019 drought. Survey participants included 17 women and 40 men from 14 provinces of Afghanistan.

Both sets of KIs were identified through purposive sampling of existing networks within the humanitarian cluster system. Interviews were conducted using trained interviewers fluent in Dari and Pashto, either from a call centre in Kabul or face-to-face (according to standard COVID-19 interview protocols) as security protocols allowed. Data was collected, cleaned, and analysed according to standard IMPACT guidelines. A secondary data review complemented and triangulated analysis drawn from primary data collection.

There are several limitations to this assessment. The majority of KIs (2,008 out of 2,073 KIs) were male, which may obscure barriers or experiences that women may encounter during a natural disaster. Similarily, the majority of KIs did not report a disability (1,630 out of 2,073 KIs). This may obscure barriers/experiences that persons with a disability may encounter. Finally, findings are indicative and are not statistically representative of the assessed population

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