Facing a double whammy of natural disasters -- drought in 2011 and floods in 2012 -- in the northern region, Public Information Officer Assadullah Azhari explains what WFP is doing to help thousands of flood-affected communities in the country.
While travelling to the northern part of Afghanistan you will notice varied geographical environments. Wide deserts, which result from lack of proper water management systems, have nothing to produce except dust. Other areas are lush and green because of the hard work of farmers producing a myriad of agricultural products. But you will also very frequently see areas where flood waters flow.
People in the area express different views about the heavy raining and floods. While most landowners are happy for the rain after the devastating dry spell and are optimistic it will bring them more produce during the harvest, there are also those in the same communities suffering from the floods and waiting for humanitarian assistance.
Beneficiaries in Faizabad district of Jawzjan province cleaning an irrigation canal previously blocked by the floods. Photo: WFP/Assadullah Azhari
The northern region of Afghanistan which has been widely affected by recent floods is the most food-insecure region of the country. Moreover, last year's drought hit the same area and worsened the living conditions there. A few months have passed since the floods started. Based on reports, Kuduz, Baghlan, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Put, Faryab and Balkh are among the provinces where heavy rains and floods have affected some 130,000 people – causing loss of lives and asset damages.
During these kinds of emergency situations, reaching the affected people and providing them with food assistance is the top priority for WFP. Since the beginning of the flood deluge this year, WFP, along with other humanitarian agencies, has provided life-saving assistance to affected communities.
WFP is a member of the National and Provincial Disaster Management Committees, which conducts technical assessments in the flood-affected areas. Based on assessment findings, WFP implements its emergency response in coordination with the government and other agencies on the ground.
WFP has already distributed about 3,180 tons of food to approximately 115,900 people. More assistance is planned to cover the rest of the affected people. In addition to general food distributions, WFP has implemented Food for Work (FFW) projects in some of the flood-affected areas. Under FFW projects, communities are provided food as incentive for their participation in cleaning irrigation canals and small dams that have been blocked by the floods. In this way, the FFW projects allows the communities to contribute towards addressing the agricultural problems they encounter due to the floods.
"Some years, we don't even see one drop of water. And this year, we've had four floods," says Abdul Baqi, the head of the Community Development Council in Shiberghan. "It’s flood season now. If it continues to flood like this, it will put alot of mud into the canals and block the flow of water to our village. Now, we are cleaning the canals through WFP projects."
Following the emergency WFP field staff conducted an assessment to identify the impact of the floods and the assistance needed.
In 2011, WFP fed some 1.2 million people affected by natural disasters, such as floods or drought, as well as those displaced by conflict. Emergency food assistance is normally provided for a short time in the early stages of an emergency, and can then be followed by other interventions under the project’s recovery component – such as food-for-work activities – to help communities rebuild their lives.