Afghanistan is vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, including earthquakes, flooding, drought, landslides, and avalanches. In 2015, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Afghanistan, claiming 177 lives and injuring hundreds. That same year flooding and avalanches, caused by heavy rains and snowfall, affected over 8,000 families and claimed nearly 300 lives.
In spite of recurring hazard events, the country lacks adequate mechanisms for response, recovery and building resilience, putting lives and livelihoods at risk. Furthermore, managing crisis situations is particularly challenging in Afghanistan given ongoing instability and insecurity, as well as limited access to remote settlements and poor transport connectivity.
The Government of Afghanistan has taken steps to advance disaster risk management (DRM) in the country. The government has developed institutional frameworks for DRM, including a Strategic Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (2011), and a number of DRM laws and provincial DRM plans. However, these frameworks have not been properly implemented due to insufficient budgeting, a lack of human resources, and insecurity within the country.
To further advance the DRM agenda, government priorities include:
- Improving the understanding and incorporation of natural hazard and climate risk in development planning;
- Developing a national DRM strategy and integrating risk awareness in public policies and investments;
- Developing early warning systems for all major hazards while improving outreach to communities; and,
- Building DRM capacities at the central level as well as at the community level through awareness, education, and training.
Since 2015, GFDRR has supported initiatives which are laying the building blocks of resilience in Afghanistan. The World Bank is financing a large share of development projects in the country through a reconstruction fund. GFDRR’s initial engagements are providing the baseline risk data, guidelines, and frameworks necessary to mainstream DRM into these development projects, thus helping to build resilience and reduce vulnerabilities.
GFDRR is providing technical assistance to help strengthen the Government of Afghanistan’s basic disaster prevention capacity to effectively plan for, and respond to, natural hazard events. GFDRR and the World Bank are providing assistance and training to: (i) develop multi-peril hazard and risk assessments; (ii) strengthen early warning systems; (iii) build institutional capacity building in priority ministries; and (iv) develop a framework to mainstream DRM into World Bank projects. To date, multi-peril national and local risk assessments have been developed, providing key analytical inputs for national and local decision making.
In addition, GFDRR is supporting an initiative to help integrate DRM into the agriculture and irrigation sector. In collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Ministry of Agriculture, assessments, framework, and procedures are being developed to support the resilience of irrigation facilities and address river bank erosion. These outputs will inform World Bank projects with over $98 million in financing and help restore and develop irrigation for increased agricultural productivity.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of Afghanistan for support in the following areas:
- Strengthening natural hazard and climate risk data management and sharing;
- Implementing a community-led DRM strategy, including community-based risk assessments and early warning systems; and,
- Building urban resilience to seismic risk through strengthening risk information and the identification and prioritization of critical investments for infrastructure retrofitting.