More Drought : Afghanistan : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Afghanistan, killing livestock, drying up wells

By KATHY GANNON The Associated Press 4/27/00 3:16 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Water wells were bone dry, camel carcasses rotted in the blistering sun and entire villages in southern Afghanistan talked of leaving the drought-ravaged area for neighboring Pakistan, a World Food Program official said Thursday.

After four days of traveling from village to village in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar and Zabul provinces, Khalid Mansour, an information officer for the organization in neighboring Pakistan, said the situation was desperate.

Afghanistan's nomads, called Koochis, have lost up to 80 percent of their cattle because of a severe water shortage, he said. Irrigation systems built to collect rainwater have dried up.

Apricot and almond trees that provide the livelihood of villages have withered and are without fruit. In some villages people had been reduced to digging up alfalfa, which is used as animal fodder, and boiling the roots for food.

"We saw a huge number of animal carcasses. Camels were dying," Mansour said. "When a camel dies from lack of water, it is a drought."

The World Food Program has been feeding 30,000 families in the region since February, or about 300,000 people. Next month the WFP plans to add 10,000 more families to its program, giving each family 220 pounds of wheat.

Many in Afghanistan spoke of moving away from the parched land, Mansour said. But with much of the southern Asian continent withering under the heat of this extreme summer, the WFP wants to avoid a mass exodus.

It would work against the Afghanis to travel south and become refugees in Pakistan, which has also been hit with severe water shortages in Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.

Further south in India, 50 million villagers are suffering a searing drought in two western states, while 30 million others are dealing with severe water shortages in nine northern states, a government report said Thursday. Villagers desperate for a drink have begun digging small wells with their bare hands, some reaching at least six feet before finding dirty, saline water.

"We think it is better to tell (Afghani) villagers to stay in their homes, dig deeper wells and clean up the irrigation canals," Mansour said. "If they leave it could destroy the whole village structure."

The WFP is offering Afghans additional flour as an incentive if they remain in their villages.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 27, 2000


I guess the guy who wrote a few weeks ago that drinking water would become more precious than oil knew what he was talking about.

-- Billiver (, April 27, 2000.

Thursday, May 11 , 2000 -- Safar 06, 1421 A.H.

Tens of thousands flee drought-hit Afghan regions

KABUL: The entire population of the Registan desert in southern Afghanistan has fled as a drought, described as the worst in 30 years, hit the war-ravaged country, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The report said the hardest hit areas were Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Uruzgan and Nimroz provinces. But it expressed concern over possible scarcity of food and fodder all over Afghanistan as a moderate drought was affecting much of the rest of the country.

The United Nations report said inhabitants of the Registan desert migrated after their water sources dried up. It did not give a figure, but Abdul Hai Mutmaen, a spokesman for the ruling Taliban militia, said around 300,000 families had been evacuated from Registan to neighbouring Herat and other adjacent provinces. The report said that the owners of livestock, especially nomads and farmers dependent on rainfall, were seriously affected by the drought. "The mortality rate amongst livestock in the most affected parts of Afghanistan is estimated to be in the range of 50 per cent to 60 per cent," it said.

The report said the impoverished central region of Hazarajat might also be badly hit by the drought in coming months, which could trigger an influx of people from rural areas to Kabul. It warned that shallow wells in the Taliban's Kandahar headquarters were drying up as the water table dropped and, if the drought continued, a water crisis could grip the city, 90 per cent of whose population relies on the wells.

However, the Taliban criticised the UN for not taking "practical measures". "There are enormous problems in terms of lack of water for drinking and irrigation in many parts of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabdul and Uruzgan. The local people are upset why the United Nations and other international aid groups have not done something practical," Mutmaen said. He said Taliban helicopters and tankers were supplying drinking water to affected villages.

Farmers in Kabul also said the drought had affected vegetable and wheat cultivation. "There is no water even to purchase for our small gardens," Mohammad Ehsan, a farmer in Sarasiab village south of Kabul said.

The Taliban officials on Tuesday said at least 25 people, most of them children, had died of dehydration and hunger in the drought- stricken regions. The deaths over the past few weeks were reported in Shorabak and Hazarajuft districts of Helmund where a Taliban- sponsored mass evacuation is underway, they said. Some 4,000 families have been evacuated from the worst-affected areas in Helmund to other places in Afghansitan, Taliban officials said, adding that another 1,200 families moved across the border into the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which is itself reeling under the effects of the drought

-- Martin Thompson (, May 12, 2000.

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