London, 18 March, 2019: Since early March this year, storms and torrential rains have struck Kandahar and other southern and south-eastern provinces in Afghanistan including Helmand and Kunar.
Flash floods in southern Helmand province have also caused widespread damage in the Lashkargah, Nahri Siraj, Nawa, Nadali, Garamsir and Dishu districts, with the majority of houses near to the riverbank completely destroyed.
According to regional government and Action Against Hunger’s emergency response team, more than 4,000 households in total are likely to have been affected by the flooding already.
The high influx of displaced people into areas unaffected by the rains and floods has put an extra burden on both hosting families in terms of dwindling food stocks, and the local job market as a whole.
Further exacerbating the humanitarian situation, security in Helmand remains challenging with more areas under control of armed groups, and frequent air strikes in northern Helmand causing more internal displacements. Consequently although not as severely affected by flood damage as some other areas, the depleted presence of aid workers and resources in the province is also likely to hinder aid efforts in the coming days.
During an initial joint assessment of close to 3,500 displaced people, or 436 households, in the Nawa and Nadali districts of Helmand province, it was found that every family had lost most of their cash savings, and all reported significant reductions in their monthly incomes
The subsequent overall food security of these families remains critical, with all but one household reporting having no food stock at all, and 71 per cent recording poor food consumption scores (FCS), which can lead to malnutrition and immune system deficiencies.
More than half of those assessed are now using stream and river water for drinking, washing and cooking, some of which is not safe to drink, and a similar number do not have access to toilets. This situation not only exacerbates the potential spread of disease, particularly cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, but also impacts emergency health expenditure.
Action Against Hunger has an active base in Helmand, where an emergency response programme is already in place. We have already provided 279 kitchen kits to displaced families, with other agencies providing tents, food packages, hygiene kits and cash transfers.
We are conducting a multi-sector assessment in the flood affected areas and, through START funding, have the capacity to help a further 4,000 household through multi-purpose cash transfers, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, as well as further expected flood-impacted families in Helmand and Ghor.