Pakistan floods hit tent supplies

Finding temporary shelter for people made homeless by floods in Afghanistan is being hampered by a shortage of tents, according to aid agencies.



Several vendors said they could not replenish stocks due to the floods in neighbouring Pakistan. “We were importing tents from Pakistan but the floods there have reversed the situation because our providers in Pakistan are now demanding tents from us,” said Jalaluddin, a vendor.



The price in Kabul of a large tent meeting Sphere’s minimum quality standards and generally used by international aid agencies has risen from about US$100 in late July to over $150 on 15 August.



Flash floods have killed over 85 people and destroyed thousands of houses in 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces in the past month, the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority said, and the situation was driving up local demand for tents.



An official from an international aid agency operating in the southeast who preferred anonymity told IRIN the lack of tents posed a serious problem for people made homeless by the floods.



CARE International, another aid agency involved in flood response efforts, said it would send its last available tents to flood-affected families in the central provinces of Wardak and Logar in the next two days. “We have requested funds from our donor [the Canadian International Development Agency] to replenish stocks,” Abdul Ghafoor Latifi, CARE’s emergency response coordinator, told IRIN.



Non-food items, including tents, are also distributed by the UN Refugee Agency but no one from the organization was available to comment.



Rebuilding homes



Tents are at best only a short-term solution; people who have lost their homes will need to rebuild them before winter, aid agencies say.



“Tents are not the appropriate solution for Afghanistan where the winters are so severe that some areas are cut off from the rest of the country for months at a time,” said Neeti Bhargava, country director of Oxfam Novib, a member of Oxfam International.



Sub-zero temperatures often spread respiratory diseases and threaten the lives of vulnerable people, particularly children and pregnant women.



Aid workers warn that many of the displaced would be unable to rebuild their shelters without assistance. “With winter approaching, time is fast running out to get people out of tents and into proper homes,” said Bhargava.



Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has been providing food to flood victims, is aware of the danger of roads blocked by snow. “This is a critical time for WFP ahead of Afghanistan's long, harsh winter. WFP is currently pre-positioning food in areas that could become inaccessible as early as October due to heavy snowfall,” Challiss McDonough, a WFP spokeswoman, told IRIN.



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