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Afghanistan: ICCT Flood Contingency Plan (Mar - Jun 2020)

Response objectives 

  • Save lives in the areas of highest need through rapid provision of relief items and emergency services
  • Ensure that vulnerable people with specific needs and/or reduced coping capacities have access to assistance that meets their needs
  • Provide support for rapid recovery and resilience building, especially in locations that are repeatedly exposed to flood

Planning scenario

Afghanistan is highly prone to natural disasters, the frequency and intensity of which are exacerbated by the effects of climate change, increasing humanitarian needs. Afghanistan has an INFORM Risk Index of 7.9, the fifth highest risk country out of 191 profiled. At the same time, the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index ranks it as one of the least prepared countries against climatic shocks and the 11th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Flooding affected large swathes of the country every year as heavy snow melts and rivers swell, inundating communities. Heavy rainfall also contributes to flash flooding. The typical flood season runs from March to June each year. In 2019, heavy rainfall caused unseasonal flooding in atypical locations, especially in the country’s south, affecting some 294,000 people. This was the last in a string of unusual weather years for Afghanistan which included three successive years of low rainfall and minimal flooding amid a drought in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

In 2020, floods are expected to return to a more normal patternacross most of the country in terms of scale and intensity, with some geographical variations. Climate projections indicate the potential for higher temperatures, along with above average snow and rain in the east, west, central and southern parts of the country, which will in turn lead to faster melt and evaporation rates.  This will increase the risk of extreme events such as flash floods and flooding of rivers. 

As outlined in the HRP, an estimated 200,000 people are expected to be affected byflooding and related natural disasters (landslides, avalanches) nation-wide.This is based on an average of recent years, excluding the three years of the drought. Please see map for provincial breakdown.  

Below average rain and high temperatures suggest the risk of flooding is lower than normal in  Badahkshan, Takhar, Baghlan and Kunduz in the north-east and Balkh in the north.  These areas will likely experience drier than expected conditions and out of season temperatures. While these conditions are liable to change, a continuation of the current situation will cause significant impacts on the pivotal spring cultivation season which is highly dependent on seasonal rainfall and snowmelt. In these locations, it seems likely there will need to be simultaneous response to low rainfall, while other parts of the country are grappling with floods. In these low rainfall areas, the response should focus more on general food and animal feed distribution rather than agricultural land rehabilitation. If the current conditions continue, activities in these areas will need to be focused on immediate lifesaving needs including 3 months of full food baskets and relevant animal feed. This response is not costed within this flood plan but is covered within the broader HRP. 

Anticipated needs of flood-affected communities

People are most often affected by flooding and require support to stay in their own (sometimes damaged) shelters, rather than being displaced by flooding into another community. Typical needs expressed by flood-affected communities include emergency relief items (NFIs), emergency shelter, health, nutrition and WASH services, as well as protection assistance. There is an elevated risk of illness (particularly diarrheal disease) due to contaminated water if WASH needs are unaddressed. 

Food, livestock and agriculture are also impacted. Localised food shortages or a lack of capacity to pay for food for the immediate period after the disaster are also risks.The lives and livelihoods of people in highly flood-prone areas are further threatened by the erosion of agricultural lands and crops that are washed away. In 2019, floods caused the loss of 11,864 livestock and damage to 97,325 jeribs of land, which accounted for the livelihoods of 228,000 people.  The 2020 seasonal floods are again expected to damage agriculture lands, irrigation channels, canals and water reservoirs and once again cause livestock losses. In addition, the increased level of humidity may elevate the likelihood of plant and livestock disease outbreaks.

Post-flood, people also need support to quickly recover through targeted assistance to restart livelihoods, the provision of transitional shelterand the restoration services such as health, water and education. Communities that are repeatedly affected by flooding every year also need support so that they become more resilient to future disasters, reducing their need for humanitarian assistance over time. The new parameters for humanitarian action outlined in the 2020 HRP allow scope for humanitarians to deliver more durable solutions (e.g more robust water systems) where they will prevent people slipping back into humanitarian need year-after-year. Opportunities for engagement with development actors should also be pursued to ensure investment in longer-term solutions.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
20 Feb 2020
Document type: 
Contingency Plan
Theme(s): 
Natural Disasters
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination