Afghanistan is vulnerable to numerous 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.
Despite 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 several 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 capacity at the central and community levels through awareness, education, and training.
Since 2015, GFDRR has supported initiatives that are laying the building blocks of resilience in Afghanistan, 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.
Currently, GFDRR activities are helping to develop multi-peril hazard and risk assessments; strengthen early warning systems; build institutional capacity in priority ministries; define effective landslide mitigation strategies; and develop a framework to mainstream DRM into World Bank projects in the country. To date, activities have developed a multi-peril national and local risk assessments, a Decision Support Systems, and a geohazard risk management plan, which provide key analytical inputs for national and local decision making. These outputs are building the operational and technical capacity of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Public Works, and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to integrate resilience into infrastructure programs
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. Activities are informing World Bank projects with over $98 million in financing and help restore and develop irrigation for increased agricultural productivity.
The World Bank is financing a large share of development projects in the country through a multi-donor reconstruction fund. Previous GFDRR activities engagements have provided the baseline risk data, guidelines, and frameworks needed to mainstream DRM into these development projects, thus helping to build resilience and reduce vulnerabilities.
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;
- Building capacities of policy makers, and operational.technical government staff to integrate geo-hazard risk management into infrastructure programs;
- 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.