Posts Tagged afghanistan

In Afghanistan, an Endless Battle against the Elements

Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013 at 12:28 pm

By Kieran McConville, Multimedia Producer, Concern Worldwide

Dawlat Mohammad has lived under harsh conditions all his life, but the natural environment of his Afghanistan homeland has become more hostile than ever.

Dawlat Mohammad has lived under harsh conditions all his life, but the natural environment of his Afghanistan homeland has become more hostile than ever.

He strides purposefully across the harsh, rocky landscape, a heavy chapan draped over his shoulders despite the 85-degree heat. Every day of Dawlat Mohammad’s 65 years under the Afghan sun is etched into his face, his bright blue eyes twinkling merrily as he greets us in the traditional way: “Assalomu allaikum.”

We are standing in what could easily be described as a moonscape—gravel and boulders strewn in all directions, huge rocky hills in the distance. This has the appearance of a vast, dried-up river bed and, in a way, that is what it is. All across this part of northeastern Afghanistan, huge flood beds dissect the landscape, a product of the mountain rains and melting snows of springtime.

The extreme seasons have always been a challenge to those who live here, but over the past decade that challenge has increased dramatically. “Over there,” says Dawlat, gesturing to the base of a low hill about 200 yards away. “That is where the river used to run—a small stream most of the time. Now the floods are wiping us out.”

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Where the Snow Piles up Six Stories High

Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 11:21 am

By Tom Dobbin, Emergency Program Coordinator, Takhar Province, Afghanistan

A flood defense system in Rustaq

Takhar Province in the far northeast corner of Afghanistan is a remote and unforgiving place. High in the mountains, it has more major earthquakes, landslides, and flash floods than any other part of the country. The landscape is stark and barren and poverty is crippling.

As winter settles in, children scour the hillsides for animal dung and withered thistles to use as fuel to keep warm. In the dead of winter, temperatures can plummet to a mere five degrees Fahrenheit. Heavy snowfall makes it completely impossible to travel in or out of. Last year, which was the worst winter in decades, snow drifts were as high as 50 feet—the height of a six-story building.

When the snow melted in April, it triggered violent flash floods that washed away homes, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. One village, Rustaq, saw nearly 100 feet of river bank engulfed by water, taking with it 60 homes. In Chall District, the floods washed out a bridge that was the only connection to the nearest village for 770 villagers and 150 students who crossed the bridge every day to go to school. Some villages, like Khailan, were told they had to relocate altogether. As part of Concern Worldwide’s emergency response team, I was deployed to Afghanistan as Emergency Program Manager in Takhar to oversee a program to repair the damage that was done because of last year’s floods and brace communities for the upcoming winter and future disasters.

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In Afghanistan’s Unforgiving Terrain, Bracing Communities for Natural Disasters

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

By Peter Doyle, Asia Desk Officer, Concern Worldwide

Peter Doyle with Muhammad Niaz

Travelling through Afghanistan’s spectacularly scenic mountainous northern region, it was immediately evident to me how vulnerable this area is to natural disasters.  The steep mountains have been badly deforested and the soil constantly eroded, stripping what should be fertile agriculture land of its nutrients and leaving the communities that call this unforgiving terrain home at constant risk of flooding and landslides.

Last year was particularly tough—a severe drought was followed one of the harshest winters in recent times. This led to avalanches and later in spring, as the snow melted and rains came, severe flooding.  Yet despite all this, people live here, clinging to the edge and at mercy to Mother Nature.

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On the Edge of Precipice: My Journey by Horseback to Afghanistan’s Most Remote Villages

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 8:34 am

By Peter Wilson, Program Support Officer, Afghanistan

As the warmth of springtime settles across North America and Europe, northern Afghanistan is just now thawing from what many consider to be the worst winter in living memory – the destruction it leaves behind will be felt for some time to come. In February this year, stories emerged that children were dying in Kabul’s displacement camps because of the extreme cold, while in Badakhshan, a province in the far northeast corner of the country, heavy snowfall triggered catastrophic avalanches, burying entire villages in feet of snow.

Concern Worldwide’s emergency response team delivers fodder to 2,000 households by donkeys and horses to remote villages in Badakhshan Province.

However, little has been told about what the people of Badakhshan endured this winter and how they continue to be at-risk as the snow begins to melt. This is largely because it is so incredibly difficult to access. An extremely remote and mountainous region, communities in Badakhshan can be entirely cut off from the outside world for up to seven months a year. Most villages can only be reached by horseback or foot across treacherous paths dotted with ravines, rockslides, and landslides. Read the rest of this entry »

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