Several years on from their initial conception, the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seems more out of reach than ever before, with the COVID-19 pandemic reversing years of global development progress. One Goal that warrants particular focus in Afghanistan given the intensity of the climate crisis is SDG 13: Climate Action. Read on to learn more about how our teams are working with communities across the country to deliver climate action, now.

The targets

There are five key targets that must be met worldwide to achieve SDG 13: Climate Action. 

  • 13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 13.A Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilising jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
  • 13.B Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalised communities

In order to achieve all the goals in SDG 13, sustained, international cooperation is required. Urgent action needs to be taken in reducing emissions and finding green alternatives but also in the spheres of mitigation and adaptation. 

How does SDG 13 apply to Afghanistan? 

With global temperatures rising above 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, countries across the world are already starting to see the devastating impacts of climate change play out. Drought is estimated to displace 700 million people by 2030, and medium to large scale disasters are expected to increase in frequency by 40% from 2015-2030. Undoubtedly, communities who contribute the least to global emissions are bearing the brunt of this crisis, such as Afghanistan, the eighth most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change.  

In the last few years, the climate crisis has heavily exacerbated Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis. With the majority of the Afghan population relying on agriculture for income, a sector continually weakened by natural disasters and drought, over 21 million people are now in need of food and agricultural support, and six million people face famine levels of hunger. Low precipitation and decrease in snowfall has also led to increased water insecurity across the country, with the proportion of households experiencing barriers to accessing water rising from 48% in 2021 to 60% in 2022, and millions of families forced to drink unsafe water.

When droughts occur and temperatures rise, it can make land more prone to flooding, as soil loses its ability to effectively absorb rainwater. Such instances are becoming increasingly common across Afghanistan, with flash floods leading to loss of life, homes, livelihoods and livestock, and devastating entire communities. In 2023, it is estimated that around 233,000 people will become displaced due to natural disasters such as floods, fuelling poverty and instability across the country. 

Afghanaid and SDG 13

For decades, we have sought to deliver innovative solutions to help vulnerable communities tackle the problems they face, and our approach to climate change is no different. Now a primary focus in almost all of our projects, we work with men and women across the country to:

  • create sustainable strategies that decrease the risk of climate-induced disasters;
  • provide support to diversify and strengthen livelihoods in the face of changing temperatures;
  • supply training and tools on best climate practices
  • and provide immediate relief when crises occur.

Mitigation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Natural Resource Management

One of the most vital aspects of our work mitigating climate disasters is building resilience in rural communities to foresee, adapt to and diminish the impact of disasters, protecting life, land, local economies and infrastructure. Through developing Early Warning Systems (EWS) and establishing community-based disaster management committees, we can enhance local capacity to plan, prepare for and respond to disasters.

EWS use integrated communication networks to assist communities in getting ready for dangerous climate-related occurrences, as an adaptive response to climate change. An integrated system of hazard monitoring, forecasting and prediction, disaster risk assessment, communication and preparedness activities systems, EWS’ can reduce the damage of a disaster by 30% if activated 24 hours before the event.

Recently, we implemented a community-based drought early warning system that combined data measured at a global and local level with indigenous climate indicators to allow for real-time monitoring of bioclimatic variables. This initiative helped farmers prepare for and anticipate drought conditions, and improved food security, benefitting 7,000 people.

We also work to reduce disaster risk through environmental intervention and natural resource management, which in turn has beneficial outcomes for farming communities, tackling both deforestation and food insecurity. As the lead partner of the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium, we completed a large ecosystem based disaster risk reduction project from 2018-2021 across six provinces and 245 communities. Through innovative eco-DRR interventions, communities were able to take a holistic approach to climate action, whilst also earning an income, strengthening their rights and providing for their families. 

This project was able to result in flood reduction in 182 communities through the construction and fitting of a series of gully plugs, trenches, terraces, flood protection walls and retention walls, protecting 22,900 households. 

Trenches and gully plugs on a hillside in rural Badakhshan province

Our community is located in the lower side of the mountain terrain with high levels of annual flooding that was destroying community houses and other public properties...these interventions have significantly reverted the flood waters away from homes and the public road, which has reduced the flooding of houses and meant community members are able to use the road

Abdullah, Community Development Committee Member.

As part of this groundbreaking project, the ARC also planted more than 600,000 trees, more than half of which were fruit trees, revitalising local biodiversity, providing a new source of nutritious food and restoring once degraded land. The second phase of this consortium project started in 2022. 

Emergency Assistance and Basic Services

When natural disasters strike, their impact can be catastrophic, especially in a nation already dealing with a collapsed economy and severely weakened healthcare system. Between the Taliban takeover in August 2021 and December 2022, we supported 1.8 million people with emergency humanitarian assistance, including food parcels, emergency cash and shelter and heating support.

Flooding, droughts, extreme weather events and earthquakes have all forced thousands to flee their homes in recent years, with this number only rising. Over the past year, we've supported over 12,830 people in Ghor and Samangan provinces by restoring and rebuilding houses that have been destroyed by conflict and natural disasters, helping entire communities to return to places they once called home. Our teams have also been hard at work ensuring water scarcity as a result of climate change does not diminish families’ ability to access clean drinking water. In the last three years, we have installed 532 solar water pumps in communities across Afghanistan, ensuring men, women and children are less at risk of avoidable illness.

What can you do to help? 

Our committed supporters help ensure that we can continue to deliver projects that tackle SDG 13 in Afghanistan by investing in green, grassroots projects. However, as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan deepens, and natural disasters increase in frequency and severity, we must provide greater support to even more families. 

By setting up a regular gift today, and you will allow us to plan ahead, ensuring we can deliver sustained support and enact longer-term projects to tackle the climate crisis in Afghanistan:

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