Afghanistan Hit by Multiple Natural Disasters in July

Date Published: 
Friday, July 31, 2015

Afghanistan has been affected by over 30 natural disaster incidents in the past month, killing and injuring several people, displacing hundreds of families and damaging homes and farmland in 17 provinces.

IOM has rapidly responded to these incidents, assessing damage and needs in the affected communities and delivering aid in coordination with the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) and other humanitarian partners.

Unseasonal snowmelts and heavy rains have raised river levels across the region, resulting in floods and landslides. During July, IOM recorded flooding, but also landslides and riverbank erosion, which damaged and destroyed over 2,300 homes and affected over 8,300 people. There have been 232 incidents since the beginning of the year.

IOM has participated in joint assessments of 40 communities hit by floods and landslides, and carried out 19 aid distributions, assisting over 6,000 people. Affected families are provided with basic household supplies, clothing, blankets, solar lighting kits and emergency shelter based on their needs.

“Needs are greatest in the immediate aftermath of a disaster,” said IOM Afghanistan Humanitarian Assistance Programme Manager Gul Mohammad Ahmadi. “We try to respond as quickly as possible, even in remote and difficult to access areas, to ensure that people who have lost their homes and possessions get immediate help.”

An incident in Badakhshan province earlier this month highlights the scale of the destruction that can be caused by flooding in a matter of hours.

On 6 July, a massive flood triggered by melting snow swept through Ayonak village in Badakhshan. Over 100 homes were damaged and destroyed, and 283 families were forced to flee to nearby villages.

The day following the flood, an IOM team was in Ayonak meeting with the community and determining their immediate needs, as floodwaters continued to rush past homes and over roads. Trucks carrying assistance of the affected households arrived soon after, providing families with the basic provisions they need to survive, as they work to rebuild lost homes and livelihoods.

“Our crops and animals are our only source of income, and they were washed away by this flood,” said a community elder from Ayonak. “Without the items we received [from IOM] we would have almost nothing, but we also need help rebuilding our homes and livelihoods.”

Flood incidents continue to affect provinces throughout Afghanistan. Most recently, IOM distributed assistance for 85 families (520 individuals) displaced by a flood in Koyak village, Badakhshan on 29 July.

In addition to responding to natural disasters when they occur, IOM also works with disaster-prone communities to strengthen awareness and resilience. This includes developing community disaster management plans, mapping local hazards and establishing early warning systems, as well as the construction of flood protection walls.

Twenty-one flood walls have been constructed in 14 provinces over the past two years. These walls are now protecting thousands of people, homes, livestock and crops.

Support for IOM’s natural disaster response and risk reduction activities in Afghanistan is currently provided by USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Government of Japan.

For more information, please contact Matt Graydon at IOM Kabul, Tel. +93 794 100 546, Email: mgraydon@iom.int