* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
North, North-eastern & Western Afghanistan: Floods & Landslides
Geneva, 5 May 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
Heavy monsoon rains since 24 April 2014 have resulted in flash floods across 10 provinces in the north of Afghanistan. 71,000 people (10,843 families) have been affected. Approximately 16,000 people have been displaced across the north, north-eastern and western regions of the country.
Flood waters have damaged homes, public infrastructure, roads and thousands of hectares of agricultural land. In the north, Jawzjan Province is one of the most severely affected with the worst affected districts being Qushtepa, Darzab, Khwaja Dukoh where more than 3,700 families are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Faryab and Sar-e-Pul have suffered heavy damage, and Balkh and Samangan impacted to a lesser extent. In the western provinces of Herat and Badghis, flood waters have affected over 1,000 people and caused damage to infrastructure and agricultural land. In the north–east provinces of Takhar, Baghlan and Badakhshan flood waters have impacted over 1,000 families.
On the morning of 2 May 2014, a series of heavy rains triggered massive landslides and buried Abi Barik village in Argo District, Badakhshan Province, causing significant loss of lives and widespread damage to homes and agriculture. The initial report indicates that 1,000 families resided in the village. An estimated 300 houses have been completely destroyed and currently buried under meters of mud. The Governor of Badakhshan has confirmed the death of 300 people so far although it is feared that the death toll may rise to 2,500. The exact figure is undetermined at this point with the Government’s decision to stop the search and identify the site as a mass grave due to difficulties in getting through meters of mud. Survivors are at severe risk of further landslides in the area.
Badakhshan is a remote and hard, mountainous province in north-eastern Afghanistan (bordering Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan). The province is extremely susceptible to natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, avalanches, landslides and drought causing frequent loss of lives, livelihoods, and property.
2. Why is an ACT response needed
According to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, more Afghans have been killed by natural disasters in the last week than in 2013. Families are in need of basic necessities and continue to live under the open sky. With further risks of landslides and other disasters, the families displaced by the 2 May 2014 landslide, the late-April flash floods, and families living in high-risk areas require support. Efforts to develop contingency plans and disaster risk reduction efforts are also required.
Forecasted rains could pose additional risks for displaced families living under the open sky. Immediate response is needed for the most vulnerable families. With families having lost family members, there are cases of widowed women and orphaned children, who require immediate assistance and protection.
3. National and international response
The President has ordered Afghan officials to immediately start emergency relief efforts in the affected village. The Afghan Government’s Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) is leading the coordination of the response. The UN mission in Afghanistan, the Afghan Red Crescent, and other aid organizations recognize the need to support the displaced families. Initial assessments highlight the need for water, medical support, counselling, food and emergency shelter.
4. ACT members’ response & planned activities
ACT Afghanistan members Christian Aid (CA), Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS P/A) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) along with national partners are closely monitoring the situation and regularly communicate with Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) and UNOCHA. NCA has contributed 331 tents, 700 blankets (in Faryab and Samangan provinces) and will provide 60 temporary toilets for 60 families in Badakshan. NCA is also in contact with UNDP to provide solar lanterns to the displaced families. CA partners have already accessed and conducted assessments for shelter and rehabilitation in Badghis province. CWS-P/A has likewise conducted assessments in Jawzjan and Badakhshan provinces and is planning an emergency response focusing on food, shelter and health.
Planned activities: The ACT Afghanistan members are currently reviewing all the needs assessments and the response by other agencies. CA partners have conducted assessments in Badghis province and are planning support in shelter and rehabilitation. CWS-P/A has conducted assessments in Jawzjan province and is planning an emergency response focusing on food, shelter and health. NCA’s partners have participated in a joint assessment in Jawzjan and are in the process of conducting needs assessment in Faryab. NCA is planning to respond in Badakhshan, Faryab and Jawzjan province focusing on WASH and irrigation including strong components of DRR including protection of water and irrigation structures.
CWS-P/A, CA and NCA have agreed to issue a joint ACT appeal which will mainly focus on early recovery and rehabilitation efforts.
There are no known logistical, political or security constraints in this initial stage. The key challenge will be ensuring that the response is coordinated properly and that no duplication occurs.
Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (email@example.com)