Shadi Khan Saif-
Grocer Aziz Ullah took in his brother’s three children after he was killed by devastating flash floods in late August which also destroyed Ullah’s shop in the northern Afghan city of Charikar.
“These poor orphans have lost their
parents and have nowhere to go,” said the father-of-five, 59.
“How am I going to look after their needs? Only God knows.”
In the once-bustling provincial capital of Parwan, where nearly 160 people died, residents are trying to repair their shattered properties, while still grieving for relatives.
The north and east of the country are struggling to recover from the effects of the heavy downpours that claimed more than 200 lives, mostly women and children, across 13 provinces, as officials warn climate change could bring more such disasters.
In August, torrential rains swept off the majestic Hindu Kush mountains and through the valleys of Parwan, washing away hundreds of homes. When Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the area in early September, he noted that 80 per cent of natural floodwater channels had been turned into residential areas, increasing the loss of life.
He ordered Charikar’s administration to clear the flood pathways, resettle people now living there, and produce a new development master plan for the city. Thousands of hectares of farmland were also damaged and livestock perished in the floods that caught local communities off-guard.
Rohullah Amin, deputy head of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), set up in 2010, warned of far worse impacts from rising temperatures and erratic weather in the coming years if climate change “is not taken seriously locally and internationally”.
“The developed world needs to take responsibility as we have barely contributed to climate change, but are losing so many lives due to it,” he said. With very little industry of its own, Afghanistan accounts for far less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In a report submitted to the United Nations in 2017, the NEPA said that since 1950, Afghanistan’s mean annual temperature had increased significantly by 1.8 degrees Celsius, while spring rainfall — important for crops — had decreased by up to a third.
Amin called for greater support from wealthy, high-emitting countries for his war-ravaged nation that, despite its tiny role in heating up the planet, is on the receiving end of the wild weather being intensified by global warming. Afghanistan ranks among the countries most at risk of — and least prepared for — climate-linked threats ranging from food insecurity to disease outbreaks, according to an index compiled by the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative.
UN agencies says droughts are likely to become the norm in Afghanistan by 2030, leading to land degradation and desertification.
— Thomson Reuters Foundation