On 23rd September, the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee continued the inquiry into the UK and Afghanistan with a session focusing on the key development and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan today.

We were pleased to have our Managing Director, Charles Davy, and two members of our Board of Trustees, Dr Orzala Nemat and Mark Bowden, included in the discussion, which covered topics from conflict and climate change, to displaced families and women's rights, to the decline in foreign aid both as a result of COVID-19 and the expected peace deal.

Watch the recording here

Climate change in Afghanistan

Despite being one of the worlds smallest contributors to greenhouse gases, Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Increasing instances of natural disasters and extreme weather are damaging the natural resource base, destroying ecosystems and putting families lives at risk on a yearly basis.

Afghanistan, like many other parts of the world is going through a lot of issues related to natural disasters...specific strategies are required to respond to these major challenges.
- Orzala

Natural disasters and natural resource management

Last month, million of people were hit by devastating flash floods, and 2 years ago the country was hit by the worst drought in decades, crippling the majority of the country.
“With better natural resource management and water management, you would allow for economic growth... The majority of the population is dependent on and engaged with agricultural activities and with better resource management you would have greater reduction in disaster risk - reduced flooding, reduced drought, perhaps even a reduction in avalanches, which set back communities for years when they get struck.
- Charles

Displacement and instability

Conflict and natural disasters uproot thousands of families across Afghanistan every year. Displaced families are some of the most vulnerable people in the world and their existing challenges are only magnified by crises like the spread of COVID-19.

"Internal displacement is a massive issue and will have long standing repercussions in terms of being able to bring peace and stability. You have over 3 million people who are internally displaced, you have a large external refugee population outside the country... one of the real challenges, whether you have peace or not is how you deal with this increasingly vulnerable displaced population.
- Mark

Women and the peace process

"Women are trying very hard to address this... With the massive women’s empowerment programmes that Afghanaid have implemented in rural Afghanistan, it shows that women in the urban and rural areas are wanting their rights to be guaranteed.

- Orzala

“They are really quite fearful that they are going to lose a lot of what has been gained and we owe it to them to stand behind them. They are half of the population and it can't just be a negotiation with the other half... It is still a very difficult place to live for women. It is imperative that the gains continue year on year.
- Charles

The impact of COVID-19 in Afghanistan

COVID-19 and the secondary effects of the pandemic in Afghanistan has exposed vulnerabilities and exacerbated existing challenges, creating grave implications for a country already struggling with deep seated poverty, long-running conflict and an extremely fragile health system.

"One overall impact of COVID-19 is the further deepening of poverty, for example during the lockdown period, the lower-middle class who were mostly relying on businesses that were small were badly effected.

- Orzala

“It has had a major impact in terms of the way aid is seen. The decline in western economies has also affected aid budgets.

- Mark

The dangers of the decline in foreign aid

“Cuts in aid will be quite catastrophic… and most notably for those already in vulnerable situations - those in female headed households, the disabled, the elderly and frail.
- Charles
“The decline in western economies has also affected aid budgets... It is absolutely critical… that long term aid commitments must be made.
- Mark

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