Despite contributing little to overall global emissions, Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change and is one of the least equipped to deal with the consequences.

What natural disasters occur in Afghanistan?

For years, Afghanistan has experienced intense and worsening natural disasters, including:

  • droughts,
  • storms,
  • floods,
  • landslides,
  • avalanches,
  • and earthquakes.

These disasters are increasing in frequency and severity as a result of climate change and years of environmental degradation. Thousands of people across the country are now affected by climate-induced natural disasters on a yearly basis.

Why is it difficult for Afghanistan to cope with climate change and natural disasters?

There are many reasons why Afghanistan is particularly vulnerable to these environmental issues:

  • With 80% of the population reliant on agriculture to survive, small changes to the climate have enormous impacts on growth times and yields, making food shortages more likely.
  • Environmental issues pose a significant threat to communities as they have limited capacity to adapt to the changing conditions, often using outdated techniques that are no longer suitable or effective.
  • Years of conflict have eroded traditional natural resource management mechanisms, and diverted the former government’s focus and resources away from crucial climate change adaptation programmes.
  • There is no social safety net to help people cope in times of crisis, and most families will not have savings to fall back on. Each time they are hit by disaster, their ability to cope worsens and any progress they had made is wiped out.
  • Communities are also not equipped with the systems they would need to help them identify when a disaster is about to strike, warn people and prepare. This means loss of lives, land, livelihoods and infrastructure is far more likely.
  • Disasters like floods and droughts destroy ecosystems and force people to leave their homes, and provoke conflict over scarce natural resources.
  • Fighting and displacement last year separated hundreds of thousands of people from their land and livestock, jeopardising harvests and productivity in the short-term, and eroding future resilience.

What can we do to help the people of Afghanistan?

Now more than ever, the people of Afghanistan need urgent support for agricultural development and climate adaptation. Having withstood the reinforcing impacts of conflict and disaster for over four decades, Afghan communities have always displayed remarkable resilience. However, facing the current crisis on top of natural disasters, climate change and food shortages, rural Afghan communities need to be supported to protect their livelihoods, adapt to the changing conditions and grow more food. 

Watch our film about climate action in Afghanistan

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