Limited snow and rainfall during the past winter and spring have caused a slow-onset disaster in the form of drought in the north, north-east and west of Afghanistan, further exacerbating an already critical situation for many communities that are in conflict-affected, insecure and under-developed areas. While a formal emergency has not been declared, there is a high probability that the crisis could deepen if relief and preparedness operations are not ramped up over the next four months through 2012 to bolster existing coping strategies and prevent further deterioration. The situation could be further exacerbated if the upcoming intensely cold winter is prolonged, and if precipitation in the autumn, winter and spring is insufficient. As such, responses should include the strengthening of more sustainable, longer-term, disaster risk reduction interventions by government and development partners over the next years to support millions of people who remaining in need of basic services and food and livelihoods support notwithstanding the US$26.7 billionthat Afghanistan received in aid between 2002 and 2009.
Immediate needs are related to food security and agriculture, nutrition, health and access to water for almost three million people. The anticipated loss of nutrition will have significant health impacts for children under five years of age, pregnant and lactating women, people with illnesses or disabilities and the elderly.
In August 2011, a large-scale Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) was conducted by Food Security and Agriculture Cluster partners under the technical leadership of the World Food Programme. The EFSA also included some components of nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues. In addition, other clusters, individual organizations and Humanitarian Regional Teams conducted specific assessments contributing to the analysis and response plans provided in this appeal. The Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) and WASH Cluster have identified 14 common provinces with drought needs: Balkh, Samangan, Takhar, Saripul, Herat,
Badghis, Faryab, Jawzjan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Badakshan, Bamyan, Daikundi and Ghor. The highest rates of severe food insecurity were found in the first four provinces listed. In addition, Nutrition Cluster partners conducted surveys in which preliminary results from Oxfam Novib indicate global acute malnutrition of almost 14% in Faryab and Saripul, and 9% in Balkh. Medair results indicate that Badakhshan province in the northeast has GAM rates of 30% among children aged 6-59 months.Further, the WASH Cluster identified an additional seven provinces, which are being assessed for possible drought-like conditions. The Nutrition, Health, Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items, Education and Protection Clusters identify the same FSAC and WASH common provinces.