There is no doubt that Afghanistan is suffering from the effects of climate change – so much so that the 2012 Global Adaptation Index ranks it among the most vulnerable countries in the world.
All but three of the past 11 years have seen floods or droughts, including the country’s most severe drought ever, which lasted from 1998 to 2006. Over the next 45 years, scientists predict a decrease in rainfall and a rise in average temperatures of up to 4°C compared to 1999. Droughts are likely to be the norm by 2030, leading to land degradation and desertification.
Some 80 percent of Afghans depend on rain-fed agriculture and cattle-grazing for their incomes, both of which are threatened by temperature increases and erratic rainfall. Afghanistan’s 2012 Risk and Vulnerability Assessment estimates that 36 percent of people have been affected by natural disasters.
Disputes over land and water are already a major cause of local insecurity, and the situation is set to deteriorate. Since 1978, the arable area has declined by about 60 percent, leaving only 12% of the land now suitable for farming. Unless action is taken to strengthen the resilience of communities and reduce disaster risk, we will lose recent development gains and see more people pushed into poverty.
Both government and local communities will play a key role in fighting climate change in Afghanistan. Decision makers must be informed and empowered to implement immediate and long-term solutions, while rural communities need greater awareness of how to protect their environment, and better access to sustainable livelihoods.
UNDP builds government capacity to integrate risk and impact assessments into development plans at the local level. We help the government study climate change scenarios and assess alternatives for the agriculture sector in four provinces. We also assist Community Development Councils to integrate climate change risk into their planning.
To strengthen climate-resilient livelihoods, women will be provided alternative livelihood options and other income-generating employment. The capacity of small and medium enterprises will be built so that they can expand the production of handicrafts and other products. To respond to grazing needs, around 2,000 hectares of degraded rangelands will be reforested across the country.
To improve irrigation infrastructure: small-scale reservoirs will be built along selected rivers and water harvesting techniques will be introduced. Underground irrigation (karezes) and canal systems will be rehabilitated to reduce water losses and enhance agricultural productivity. Local level water retention and utilization capacity will be improved by building community-based check dams, contour bunds and other infrastructure to conserve water and enhance groundwater recharge.
Our work complements Afghanistan’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and is funded by the Least Developed Country Fund.
What we have accomplished so far?
- Training on climate risk and appropriate response measures for national and provincial officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development; the Ministry of Energy and Water; and the National Environmental Protection Agency.
- Training for farmers and pastoralists on climate risk and appropriate response measures.
- Enhancing the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock’s capacity to respond to climate change in targeted provinces.
- Designing livelihood projects in targeted communities.
- Designing small-scale irrigation projects in targeted communities.