Hundreds of families displaced by floods, livelihoods lost

Almost a week after floods ravaged eight provinces in Afghanistan 26-28 June, aid agencies have started releasing their assessments of casualties and damage incurred.

[This story is also available as a radio report in Dari.]

According to a preliminary report by the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), flash floods killed 113 people in six provinces, including six victims in Kabul.

“A total of 688 houses have been washed away and 212 others have suffered partial damage,” UNICEF said.

Panjshir and Kapisa provinces, in the north of the country, have been the worst affected areas, where floods killed more than 90 people on 28 June, the UN reported.

Afghanistan’s National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) has described the damage caused by the floods and torrential rain as “disastrous”.

“Thousands of hectares of farmland have been destroyed; dams and bridges have been damaged; hundreds of fruit trees have been washed away and many farm animals killed,” an ANDMA report said. 

Afghan floods summary
March 2007: over 80 people killed in flooding and avalanches in 13 provinces
March 2007: over 2,000 houses damaged in flooding
May 2007: 24 people killed in flash floods in Badakhshan Province
May 2007: about 500 houses damaged in Badakhshan
24 June: six children killed in a landslide caused by heavy rainfall
26-28 June: flooding killed 113 people and wounded eight in seven provinces
June 2007: flooding washed away or damage over 900 houses


Humanitarian response

UN agencies, government bodies, private foundations and several humanitarian organisations have delivered food and non-food relief items to flood-affected communities in Panjshir, Kapisa and Kunar provinces.

“We have [seen] an impressive humanitarian response to the crisis,” said Abdul Matin Adrak, the director of ANDMA, on 4 July.

However, people in several other flood-stricken locations have criticised aid bodies for shortcomings and inefficiency.

Some residents of southeastern Paktia Province, displaced by the floods, said they had not received any humanitarian relief for more than a week.

Displaced persons

Flooding has displaced hundreds of families whose houses are either completely destroyed or damaged.

A substantial number of displaced families now live in tents distributed by the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Others have sought refuge with relatives.

Sitting with his five children and his wife in a 5x3 metre tent in the Sarkano District of eastern Kunar Province, Shah Bahar cried over the loss of his house and property.

“I lost all the earnings of my life…I will not be able to recover what I have lost in the flood,” said the 39-year-old man whose grocery shop had also been washed away.

In another affected province, Panjshir, displaced families live in tents set up near their destroyed or damaged houses.

Long-term assistance

Deedar Shalizai, the governor of Kunar, told IRIN on 4 July that people affected by the floods would require long-term assistance to ease their hardship and enable them to rebuild their livelihoods.

“Many people will restart their lives from scratch,” said Shalizai.

The government of Afghanistan has approved a bill, according to which families will receive 10,000 Afghani (US$200) for each dead person, ANDMA confirmed.


Photo: Nematullah Karyab/IRIN
Children take refuge in a makeshift tent in Kunar province

However, flood victims are unlikely to get government aid to rebuild their livelihoods.

“The government may only help rebuild damaged schools, roads and other public properties,” the director of ANDMA said.

In Kunar and Panjshir provinces children, who have not gone to school for over a week, play near the tents, now considered their homes.

No outbreaks of waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea, have been reported so far. However, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with UNICEF, has decided to distribute water purification tablets and 50,000 Oral Rehydration Salts sachets as a preventive measure.

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