Oxfam Issues Urgent Call on Drought in Central Afghanistan

November 26, 2006

For the second time in less than a decade Afghanistan is hit with a chronic drought. Once again the worst affected areas lie in central highlands of Hazarajat, across an area that became famous as the “Hunger Belt” during the 2001-2002 drought.

Oxfam warns that as many as 2.5 million face “chronic food shortage,” and that the need for assistance is urgent, as most of the worst affected areas become inaccessible with the onsen of the winter. I was forwarded a message from Oxfam wherein they requested maximum media exposure, and I hope somebody will take notice -TV, print news, anyone. See what you can do to make that happen (a PDF copy of the release available here.)

Exposure and international attention is crucial, because, assuming that the Afghan government had the willingness to respond to an emergency in this part of the country, it does not have the capacity and the means to do so. The international community saved the day in the case of 2001-2 drought when donors tripled food aid to the region in one year, it needs to do so again to save lives.

Here are some chilling excerpts from Oxfam’s Press Release:

“International aid agency Oxfam warns today that many villages in central
Afghanistan have become populated entirely by women as drought forces
men to migrate in search of work in order to survive. Now these women and
their families are beginning to abandon their homes because there is no food
left in the villages.”

“Oxfam has found that with almost a 50% fall in harvests of wheat and fodder
this year, half of the population in one of the worst affected regions, Hazarajat
will not have enough food this winter.”

“For Oxfam it is a race against time before the winter sets in over the next
month and villages become inaccessible.”