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18 Jul 2022 | Engaging policy makers

Navigating the national drought emergency in Afghanistan

Drought outlooks allow pastoralists to adapt and policy makers to prepare contingency plans

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Pastoral communities in the western Himalaya drylands are extremely vulnerable to recurrent droughts. Through our SERVIR-HKH Initiative we provided critical support to line departments at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in evaluating the severity of the 2021 drought. Ahead of the grazing season, we used satellite and modelled data, our National Agricultural Drought Watch – Afghanistan, and the National Rangelands Monitoring System to assess the potential impact of droughts on Afghanistan’s pastoral sector, and alerted government officials of the onset.

Working in tandem with the General Directorate of Livestock and Animal Health at MAIL and other partners, we conducted a comprehensive situational analysis of the upcoming disaster, identified at-risk provinces and districts, and prepared a drought-risk response plan for livestock and pastoral communities. The presidential office used the joint MAIL–ICIMOD report to officially declare a national drought emergency across the country.

Through this intervention, Afghan government officials experienced first-hand the value of climate risk preparedness tools and Earth observation-derived information as they were able to map drought vulnerability across Afghanistan’s districts and develop contingency plans as part of their livestock feed assistance plans to pastoral communities.

We assessed the potential impact of droughts on Afghanistan’s pastoral sector before the start of the grazing season and were able to alert officials on the potential of devastating drought impacts

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