Drought in north hits animal husbandry, threatens livelihoods
MAIMANA (FARYAB PROVINCE), 18 August 2008 (IRIN) - A severe drought
affecting northern parts of Afghanistan has dried pasturelands, reduced
water sources and caused the deaths of thousands of animals, local people
and officials said.
Officials in the worst affected provinces said tens of thousands of
animals had perished due to lack of water and fodder, and also because of
drought-related diseases over the past five months.
Herders at a market in Maimana, the provincial capital of northern
Faryab Province, said they were selling their animals at a very low price
to avoid flocks being lost for nothing.
“I have already lost 20 sheep and several goats because of drought,”
said a middle-aged herder, Rajab. “I want to sell the remaining at any
price,” he said, adding that he was selling a sheep for as little as US$24
compared to about $100 only a year ago.
In Faryab’s neighbouring province, Samangan, officials at the
department of agriculture said that of the roughly 1,400,000 animals in
the province up to 40 percent had been sold at cheap prices, and about 30
percent had perished due to drought.
“There is no food and no water for animals,” Shahnawaz Sharar, director
of Samangan’s agriculture department, told IRIN.
Similar problems were reported in Balkh, Jowzjan, Herat and Badghis
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has said
that up to 80 percent of rain-fed agriculture - over one third of domestic
production - had failed because of inadequate rainfall. Lack of rain had
also dried up most pastureland.
Large swaths of Afghanistan have been suffering the worst drought since
2000, according to satellite imagery by the US Geographic Survey.
The current problems come in the wake of an unusually cold winter which
killed over 315,000 animals.
Aid workers are concerned that repeated blows to livestock and animal
husbandry - a prime livelihood for millions of people - continue to push
vulnerable communities into high-risk food-insecurity and grinding
“Those who sell their animals cheaply will soon fall into extreme
poverty because in fact they are selling their only source of living,”
said Katib Shams, director of the department of agriculture in Balkh
Calls for aid
Officials in the drought-stricken northern provinces have called for
urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected communities.
They have demanded animal feed (fodder and grain), assistance to
provide water, and technical help to rehabilitate animal husbandry.
Mohammad Rahim Mirzad, head of the department of animal husbandry at
the MAIL, told IRIN donors had not responded to their previous calls for
“We know that many herders have been badly affected and desperately
need assistance… we will continue to call for help,” said Mirzad, adding
that of the country’s estimated 21.7 million livestock at least one
percent (over 200,000 animals) had perished because of cold weather,
drought and disease over the past 12 months.
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a
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Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and
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