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15.05.2019 - News

Afghanistan: supporting children displaced by climate change

Already suffering from a never-ending conflict, in 2018, Afghanistan was affected by a drought that also forced people to migrate. How is this double-crisis affecting children and their families?

The drought which ravaged two thirds of Afghanistan in 2018 forced more than 260,000 children and their families to migrate in order to find resources elsewhere. They added up to the million internally displaced people affected by the conflict and to the refugees forced to return to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran.

Across Afghanistan, the amount of arable land and land irrigated by rainwater has shrunk by half. Most of the harvest was destroyed and herds of livestock were also affected, dying of thirst. “This shortage has had a dramatic effect on some desert provinces with no water table or rivers where rain is the only source of water,“ explains Mohammad Daud, Terre des hommes (Tdh) project manager in Afghanistan. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 4 million Afghans need assistance and 13.5 million are threatened by food shortages.

Helping displaced children

Faced with this situation, Tdh and its partners deployed humanitarian assistance in the west of the country. Together, we are providing food, sanitation, emergency accommodation to families as well as protection for children and women.

The drought has caused the movement of people, which has led to serious social consequences. Torn from their communities, families are forced to live in informal housing camps near urban areas.

Child marriages

Without being able to support themselves, some displaced families had to marry off their children at an early age in order to limit their household expenses. The child marriage rate in affected provinces is more than 13% higher than the national average. An increase in child labour has also been observed. The government also admitted that, at the end of 2018, twelve children were sold by their families due to extreme poverty levels.

In order to support the displaced population fleeing both drought and an armed conflict, Tdh is providing 23,000 women and children not only with psychological and social support but also certified professional training and literacy classes. “We have also set up safe spaces,“ says Mohammad Daud. “Mobile teams of midwives allow us to provide medical care to the most marginalised women and children.”