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FAO prolong dry spell qualitative rapid assessment report

The primary objective of the assessment was to have a snapshot of situation in the areas of the country that were likely to be most affected by the reduced rainfall, in terms of both crop and livestock productivity, with a special focus on the upcoming wheat harvest. With this dry spell rapid assessment, FAO and MAIL collaborated to gather data on current precipitation levels, likely ground water stores, and local perceptions about the dry spell. Such information provides the government, the development and humanitarian communities, and NGOs with predictive information about potential outcomes for the upcoming agricultural production season, including potential shocks that may impact food security in Afghanistan over the coming year. This assessment also helped to define which areas are already affected by low precipitation, it helped verify the adverse effects of the prolonged dry spell on agro-pastoral activities, and highlighted which areas may require further monitoring to determine the likely severity and prevalence of acute food insecurity.
This dry spell rapid assessment was designed and implemented based partly on methodologies used by FSAC, who have carried out similar assessments in the past. This assessment used quantitative satellite-based data from FEWSnet, ground-based data from hydrological stations, and qualitative surveys of local community members about harvest and rainfall perceptions to draw conclusions about the impact of the winter dry spell. The rapid assessment was planned in the beginning of February and conducted in the second half of the month.
Key findings: 
The results of the rapid assessment show that the current agro-climactic conditions in the targeted provinces are significantly worse than last year, likely due to the diminished rain and snow fall during this winter wet season. Up to February 2018, most of the country was at a precipitation deficit of 70%, as compared to the previous decadal average for the same period. Both empirical data and observational data suggest that the precipitation accumulated this winter will be insufficient to meet minimum agricultural requirements for much of the country. Satellite-based precipitation data shows that all provinces in the country, except Ghazni and Khost, experienced mildly to severely decreased precipitation this winter, indicating likely decreases in agricultural outputs nationwide. These decreased outputs will likely be across all sectors, including rain-fed and irrigated crop production, pasture lands, and livestock. Across all locations where data was available, river flow volumes are decreased as compared to last year, and in most areas, aquifer levels have dropped as well. According to local livestock producers, much of the pasture land is desiccated and has yet to produce grass, which has led to low cattle weights and up to a 30% decrease in milk production. The poor harvest of 2017 also increased prices of fodder in the markets and prevented many livestock keepers from storing enough fodder to make it through winter, compounding the problem. Similarly, sheep producers reported lower weights for their animals, and increased incidence of disease and deaths. This has led many herders to adopt negative coping mechanisms such as distress sales in order to earn income to meet their most basic needs. Farmers have also consistently reported a decrease in the number of hectares of winter wheat that they were able to plant, and expressed a great deal of concern about their harvests.
Sample size: 
80 communities from 40 districts
Assessment Report: 
Assessment Questionnaire: 
Publicly Available
Assessment Data: 
Publicly Available
Assessment Date(s): 
15 Feb 2018 to 28 Feb 2018

Level of Representation

District / Province / Locality / County
Report completed
Unit(s) of Measurement: 
Collection Method(s): 
Field Interview
Population Type(s): 
All affected population
Leading/Coordinating Organization(s): 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Natural Disasters