Before Afghanaid came to our village, every year floods would destroy our homes, our roads and our land... Without the knowledge of how to prepare and respond to disasters, we had to watch as parts of our community washed away.

One evening in early May, fifty-five-year-old Saiful (below) was at home with his wife and children, sheltering from the pouring rain and hail that was pounding his village. Saiful, whose village lies on the floodplains of the northern river basins in Afghanistan, knew from experience that heavy spring rains often led to worse—devastating flash floods.

Every year, flooding threatens to destroy the home Saiful’s family lives in as well as his land, where he grows wheat, barley and vegetables alongside his almond, apricot and apple trees. 

Suddenly, Saiful heard a voice shouting through the loudspeaker of his local mosque. A flash flood was heading towards his village.  

“The mullah started yelling, warning people in the community to steer clear of the flood. He told us where it was coming from, and to take caution, remain alert and be on the lookout for people in need,” said Saiful, who heads his village’s local community development council. 

Muhammad Essa (below), who is a member of the local emergency response committee set up by Afghanaid, said that his team was on high alert. In addition to informing the local mullah, he sent out messages to community members about the possibility of a flood.

Although Afghanaid had recently supported the community to construct a protection wall (pictured below) in the village, which was designed to channel floodwaters away from the community, Muhammad and his team were not sure how high the waters would reach and worried that the wall would not be enough. 

“Before Afghanaid came to our village, every year floods would destroy our homes, our roads and our land. The waters damaged places like the police station and schools. Without the knowledge of how to prepare and respond to disasters, we had to watch as parts of our community washed away,” said Muhammad. 

Saiful, whose house was located near the protection wall, was also worried. In addition to his agricultural land, he was concerned about the nearby girls’ and boys’ schools that his children attend. Last year, three-meter high floodwaters tore through the girls’ school compound wall and flooded the school yard, carrying rocks and other debris, destroying classrooms and threatening the students’ lives. The surrounding roads were blocked, and school was cancelled for a week. 

“Parents were constantly worried and anxious about their children during the spring flooding season, since floods are dangerous and would prevent children from going to school and continuing their lessons,” said Saiful, who is also a member of the school’s parent’s committee. 

This year, however, things were different.

Muhammad smiled, “The flood waters never reached the top of the protection wall, so the water was able to pass through our community without destroying our houses, schools, public roads or land.” 

How does Afghanaid strengthen these communities against natural disasters?

We work with communities like Saiful and Muhammad’s, equipping them with the skills and know-how to prepare for and respond to floods and other natural disasters. We teach community members how to identify areas in their village that are most prone to natural disasters, build protection structures to protect homes and agricultural land from flooding, and train community-led teams to develop early warning systems and disaster preparedness plans, and run first aid training courses, so that they can rapidly respond to people in need. 

“This year, thanks to Afghanaid’s help, our schools, houses, roads, gardens and agricultural lands were protected from the flash flood. As a result, my community is safe and happy. We can continue with our farming and our lives with more confidence, knowing that we are protected against flash floods,” said Saiful. 

The flood of 4th May struck four districts in the province and left more than 100 people homeless, damaged an additional 500 homes, and killed one person. In addition to damaging roads, canals, wheat mills and wells, the floodwaters also destroyed 2,224 acres of agricultural land and crops and killed 578 livestock, threatening the livelihoods of  thousands of people.

Families across Afghanistan continue to be extremely vulnerable to natural hazards like flash flooding, whilst also battling against the coronavirus pandemic. We’re working hard to continue supporting families like Muhammad's and Saiful’s, as their existing challenges are becoming exacerbated by the spread of the virus.

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During challenging times, donations from our supporters are an absolutely vital resource for Afghanaid, and will help to ensure we can continue to reach those who need it most, and provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable.

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