Lack of snow sparks worry for drought-hit Afghanistan

Published January 17, 2024
A view of residential buildings against the backdrop of mountains in Kabul. Afghanistan has seen no snow this year so far — a testament to the heavy toll of global warming.—AFP
A view of residential buildings against the backdrop of mountains in Kabul. Afghanistan has seen no snow this year so far — a testament to the heavy toll of global warming.—AFP

KABUL: Afghanistan saw almost no snow as of mid-January, a new sign of the heavy toll of global warming on the Central Asian country which is usually accustomed to harsh winters, experts say.

The exceptionally low level of rain in a country that relies heavily on agriculture has forced many farmers to delay planting.

“In previous years by January we had a lot of rain and snow,” said Rohullah Amin, head of climate change for the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA).

But “now we don’t have enough of anything at all”, he said.

“It is very worrying, as there could be serious droughts in the future, putting heavy pressure on livelihoods and the economic sector.”

Already in its third year of drought, Afghanistan is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to the UN.

The lack of snow, predicted by experts to arrive in December, threatens the vital snowpack that provides water in hotter months, Amin said.

Members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) flew over the country in recent days, from the southern Helmand province to Kabul.

“On all the mountains, there is no snow at all,” FAO spokesman Robert Kluijver said.

“It’s very serious.”

Farmers in the southwest of the country are hardest hit by drought, according to Amin, followed by those in southern provinces _ although dry conditions have touched every part of the country.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2024

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