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 provinces.

Vulnerable

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 poverty.

“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 Province.

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 help.

“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.

Source: Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a project the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

---------

web hosting
Islamic Clothing
GNLD Neolife products
GNLD, Neolife
Melaleuca Products
GNLD Neolife Best vitamins