Climate change is not a potential future risk in Afghanistan, but a dangerous reality that is already being felt by thousands across the country. While many development gains have been made in the country over the last decade, this progress is in danger of being eroded by the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Indeed, the Global Adaptation Index still ranks Afghanistan among both the most vulnerable and the least prepared countries in the world.

Why is this a problem?

Climate change is the long-term shift in the earth’s weather patterns and temperatures. The current period of warming is largely the result of an increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity and has far-reaching consequences for global economies, health and food production.

No longer solely a topic for scientists and environmentalists, there has been a huge amount of media and political attention given to climate change and the effects of global warming in recent years, both in terms of outcry and debate. But there is no doubt that Afghanistan is highly susceptible to the consequences of these phenomena.

Afghanistan is one of the smallest contributors to greenhouse gasses but one of the greatest sufferers. 80% of the population are reliant on natural resources as their primary source of daily food and income, but environmental issues such as overgrazing, deforestation and environmental degradation are having devastating effects on their rural livelihoods.

To make matters worse, as the earth warms up, incidences of extreme weather and natural hazards are increasing. For many Afghans earthquakes, landslides, droughts, avalanches and floods, are a regular problem and a failure to adapt quickly enough to climate change has made the situation desperate. Now, more than half of the population are under serious threat and unsurprisingly, the poorest and most vulnerable people are being hit the hardest.

A chance for change

This September marks the two year anniversary of over 160 global leaders coming together to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to put an end to poverty, protect our planet and ensure peace for all. The SDGs are interconnected and encourage working in partnerships to tackle the root causes of the issues we face today in order to empower future generations. In 2015 Afghanistan, along with 186 other countries, also signed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which aims to prevent and reduce vulnerability to disasters and increase preparedness for response and recovery. 

With this in mind, we are leading the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium (ARC), comprised of Afghanaid along with Save the Children, ActionAid, Concern Worldwide and the United Nations Environment Programme, in a large programme which aims to strengthen the resilience of at-risk communities and reduce their exposure to the dangers of natural disasters. By next year, our work with the ARC will have reached 560,000 people in 705 villages and 254 schools in 9 of Afghanistan’s most disaster-prone provinces.

Collaborating with communities

In all aspects of our work, we bring all groups together to address the development needs of the entire community. Adopting an inclusive approach means that each and every person will be able to take ownership of their own development and become a driving force for change. Community members can then pass on their new skills and knowledge to future generations, meaning that the effects of the projects will be long-lasting.

Afghanaid works to strengthen communities and mitigate the effects of climate changeThrough the ARC, we are supporting those who are the most affected by the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation to adapt to this changing and sometimes unpredictable world. This includes a wide variety of tactics which target sustainability and vary depending on the specific needs of a given community. We have been working with rural communities to manage their natural resources more effectively by introducing alternatives in agriculture such as improved wheat varieties which require less water in areas prone to drought, or terracing hillsides to reduce the flow of water in areas prone to flash-floods. Strengthening agriculture is vital to achieving the SDGs in Afghanistan and globally, but there is still a long way to go. 

Take a closer look at our impact.

I want to help vulnerable families prepare for natural disasters.