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Afghanistan: Winter Snapshot (as of 11 January 2017)

Seasonal forecasts of above-average temperatures and average to below-average precipitation for the October 2016 to May 2017 wet season bore true in the fourth quarter of 2016 with rainfall and snow accumulation well below average throughout most of the country, with the exception of Balkh and Ghazni provinces.1 With both temperatures and near-surface air temperatures expected to be above the short-term average of recent years, a mild winter is not only expected but likely to drive below-average snowpack and early spring melting, with the increased possibility of flooding from February-April 2017.

Inaccessible Areas

The relatively mild winter has resulted in fewer access constraints to areas typically cut-off at this time of year, bar Kohistan district in Faryab province, where insecurity and recent heavy snowfall have hampered the delivery of food supplies to local markets resulting in significant price increases compared to previous years, and in Sar-i-Pul and Badakhshan provinces where a combined 15 districts have experienced weather-related access constraints and subsequent price increases. In Kohistan, wheat flour is 38% higher than in the Maimana regional market, while rice and sugar prices are some 54% and 82% higher respectively. Elsewhere, in the Western region, all roads are currently open in Ghor province, in contrast to 2015 when 13 passes were closed at this same time. Reports from Khost province that 5,000 families across Spera (3,000) and Tani (2,000) districts are inaccessible due to snowfall are yet to be verified.

Winter-Related Illnesses 

Concerns of a spike in winter-related illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia have not materialised as trend data indicates that current rates are in line with seasonal averages; in the Northern region, 939 cases of pneumonia were recorded in the last week of 2016 in comparison to a three year average of 1,170. Reports of additional strain on Nangarhar regional hospital as a result of a sudden surge in pediatric admissions are also not thought to be exceptional; the health cluster in collaboration with the Department of Public Health is currently undertaking an assessment to determine the reasons behind the increase. 

Health cluster partners have existing stock (both pneumonia A+B and emergency health kits) to cover 144,000 cases of pneumonia and 69,300 cases of other common diseases.

Humanitarian Assistance

UNHCR has completed winterisation assistance consisting of $200 per household7 to 22,406 vulnerable IDP, refugee, returnee and host families across Afghanistan, as well as cash for winter support to 10,000 families in Khost province and blankets to 9,580 families. Fuel assistance has also been provided to 230 classrooms in Gulan camp and the neighbouring districts of Tani, Nadarshkot, Mandozai and Gurbuz. 

WFP has distributed just under half (2,129 MT) of the 5,441 MT of food commodities it prepositioned across priority areas, supporting 37,500 protracted IDP households with two months food ration comprising 100kg of wheat flour to cover consumption gaps over the winter period. 22,575 people have also received winterusation support in the form of livestock protection. FSAC partners currently have sufficient winterisation stock (both cash and food) to assist an additional 185,000 people affected by winter. 

In the Central Region, 63,790 IDPs and 6,370 undocumented returnees have received shelter support and blankets, while in the Kabul Informal Settlements, 7,115 families have received a one month food ration from WFP; 2,800 families have received firewood packages from ADRA, and a further 2,700 families are to be assisted over January. Other NGO partners (DRC) are also providing cash for fuel support.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
11 Jan 2017
Map/Infographic Type: 
Humanitarian Snapshot
Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
Natural Disasters
Refugees and Returnees
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination