UK gives Afghanistan £170m after drought

18 Jun 19

The UK is to give Afghanistan £170m to help alleviate a “severe” humanitarian crisis caused by the worst drought in a decade that has left millions of people hungry.

The five-year aid package will provide urgent food, water and medicines for the estimated 13.5 million Afghans – a third of the population – in need of aid.

Three years of drought linked to climate change have led to massive crop failure, hunger and loss of life, forcing an estimated 266,000 people from their homes.

“The humanitarian need in Afghanistan is severe,” international development secretary Rory Stewart said after meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in London.

“Fighting and extreme drought have left millions of people hungry and desperately seeking medical help, which is why UK aid is responding with life-saving food, water and basic healthcare, including polio vaccinations.”

Earlier this year the Afghan Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that 10m Afghans faced severe acute food insecurity and needed urgent help after floods and drought.

In March extreme weather worsened conditions when above normal rain and snow fell on soil with limited vegetation or ability to soak up the water, causing flash floods in nine provinces and displacing at least 281,000 people to makeshift camps with inadequate services.

Climate change is increasing the hardship, according to the IFRC, as rising temperatures change snowmelt and rainfall patterns leading to repeated disasters that have erodedpeople’s capacity to cope.

“Millions of people need both immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance and a way out of this protracted crisis,” said Afghan Red Crescent Secretary General Dr Nilab Mobarez.

Last July the UK announced a £10m aid package to help more than a million people in Afghanistan at risk from drought, to provide immediate food for 441,000 people in a critical situation and supplies for 1.4 million others.

Today about 13.5 million Afghans are severely food insecure – 6 million more than in 2017 – meaning they have to survive on less than one meal a day.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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