UN allocates $34.6m to help Afghan drought




The United Nations has allocated 34.6 million dollars to support drought-affected Afghans, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday.

A drought is a period of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water.

OCHA Afghanistan said in a statement that UN Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) have allocated 34.6 million dollars in emergency aid to support 2.2 million people affected by severe drought.

“The fund will help seven national non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 15 international NGOs and four UN agencies for distributing food and seeds, maintain primary health services.

“Also provide emergency shelter, safe drinking water, improve hygiene and sanitation, treat severe malnutrition, and help farmers protect their livestock.

“The impact of the ongoing drought spans the north and west of the country leaving communities in deep distress,’’ it noted.

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According to Toby Lanzer, humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan, village elders in rural areas said it is the worst drought in their lifetime, and that food, fodder and seeds are needed urgently.

“The drought has forced a quarter of a million people from their land, and for the displaced, the need for shelter is critical as winter approaches.

“The drought comes on top of years of conflict and poverty, and therefore humanitarian assistance goes hand in hand with development programmes to address underlying factors such as poverty and climate change.

“Our work is closely coordinated with the authorities, yet still more needs to be done so the people of Afghanistan can withstand severe shocks such as this drought,’’ Lanzer noted.

Up to 20 of the country’s 34 provinces were affected by the drought and Afghans officials predicted that around 3 million people will be in need of aid until the end of this year.