Nestled within the majestic Hindu Kush mountains, Afghanistan is a country which holds a rich tapestry of history and culture, woven with an agricultural heritage that has sustained its people for millennia. Today, around three quarters of the population still depend on the land for their food and income.

Over the past four decades, communities across the country have had to persevere through enormous challenges. From ongoing conflict and political turmoil to acute food shortages and an erosion of basic freedoms, the Afghan people have shown remarkable resilience, holding onto hope for a brighter tomorrow amidst the shadows of uncertainty.

But now, a more silent crisis threatens to bring additional challenges to the lives of ordinary Afghans: the climate crisis. 

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The problem

For communities in Afghanistan, the climate crisis isn’t a distant threat - it’s already here. Despite being one of the smallest contributors to carbon emissions, Afghanistan is one of the countries that is most aggressively experiencing the effects of the warming planet. Ranked as the 8th most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change, and experiencing a rise in temperature of 1.8°C between 1960 and 2016 - almost twice the global average - we are witnessing a climate emergency playing out in real time.

From multi-year droughts that decimate yields, to flash floods which wash away homes, crops and livestock, the climate crisis in Afghanistan is really being experienced as a water crisis. And climate change is a threat multiplier, making the ongoing food crisis and the challenges faced by women and girls even more acute.This means that a huge number of families, who have been resiliently living off of the land for generations, are now finding themselves in really difficult positions.

The solution

Our climate adaptation work focuses on improving the availability of water for entire communities, reducing damage caused by climate-related disasters, and bolstering household resilience to climate change through strengthening and diversifying livelihoods.

Guru Naik, Afghanaid's Deputy Director of Climate Action

To tackle the wide-ranging impacts of this climate emergency, Afghanaid has been investing in local knowledge to build resilience in Afghanistan for more than a decade. The integrated and innovative solutions, which are led by the communities themselves are simple and scalable.

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1. First, we minimise risk and improve access to water by:

  • constructing flood protection walls, gully plugs, trenches and terraces to manage the flow of running water and snowmelt.This reduces the destruction of flooding whilst recharging groundwater;
  • building reservoirs, irrigation canals, super passages, solar-power wells to improve easy access to water and sustain communities and farmland through drought;
  • reforesting and improving vegetation cover to restore biodiversity, improve soil and slow floodwater;
  • installing early warning systems to enable communities to prepare in the event of hazards;
  • improving local collaboration, knowledge and resource exchange by forming community-based disaster management committees.

2. Then, with our community-led approach, we support people to rebuild and strengthen their livelihoods, by:

  • supporting farmers to boost the quantity, quality and diversity of their yields;
  • help rural people to add even more value to their produce through simple economics hacks, such as building bioclimatic storage structures, providing solar dryers, and setting up community-based farm machinery centres;
  • investing in existing local expertise, for example through supporting veterinary clinics to improve their reach and services;
  • recognising the unique challenges faced by women, and so specifically targeting them to generate climate-resilient incomes: from promoting green fuel with bio-briquette makers to increasing women's economic independence through weaving, they're developing 'off farm' vocations which are not dependent on the land, and so give their families extra resilience in the event of climate shocks.

Support these wide-ranging and life-saving initiatives:

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Hope is an action

If everything around seems dark, look again, you may be the light.

–Rumi

The sheer scale of the problem can seem overwhelming, but there is light in every situation. In Afghanistan, that light is the strength, knowledge and resilience of local people. 

Basir's thriving farm

Read about how Basir has rebuild his farm after repeated droughts and floods in his area.

Basir's Story

Our Impact

Our new film, Be The Light, explores how these pioneering climate adaptation initiatives have driven community-led action for over a decade - and how you can join Afghan change-makers like Basir as a beacon of hope for a brighter future. Watch the first episode here: