Drought in Afghanistan prompts UN appeal for $76 million

25 July 2006

Warning that more than 2.5 million people are facing food shortages if they do not receive assistance, the United Nations and the Afghan Government today launched a joint appeal for $76 million to deal with the country’s emerging drought.

Insufficient rainfall during April and May means this year’s rain-fed harvest of wheat, by far the country’s most important cereal crop, is likely to be much lower than needed, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted in a statement released in Kabul.

UNAMA warned that the drought could force many households to consume their harvest much sooner than normal, sell their animals and other assets, and also turn to poppy cultivation as a means of income.

At the launch of the six-month appeal, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Christopher Alexander, described the situation as “a human crisis.”

“It’s not just a question of lack of rain,” Mr. Alexander said. “It’s a question of livelihoods being in jeopardy, children being unable to continue their study, people selling their livestock… families having to move.”

Earlier this month the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicted that Afghanistan will face a shortfall of 700,000 tonnes of wheat because of the reduced rainfall. Droughts are a regular occurrence in Afghanistan, and this year the country’s northern and north-western provinces have been hit particularly hard.

Funds gained from the appeal will be used to buy more than 67,000 tons of cereals, as well as feed concentrate, autumn and spring seeds, fertilizer and other commodities. The UN and the Afghan Government said they are also focusing on upgrading emergency water supplies in affected areas.

 

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