About two weeks after flash floods and avalanches caused extensive damage across one third of Afghanistan, relief has reached almost all affected areas, say government and United Nations officials.
“Excluding Daykondi and Nooristan provinces, where we face severe logistical constrains, aid has been distributed to all flood and avalanches-hit provinces,” Abdul Matin Adrak, director of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), told IRIN in the capital Kabul on Monday.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that foodstuffs sufficient for one month have been distributed in 77 districts of 13 affected provinces.
“We have a massive operation of assisting some 75,000 victims,” Rick Corsino, WFP country director, said. “We have already distributed more than 1,000 metric tonnes of food items, which include wheat, beans, ghee and salt, and more are being distributed.”
More than 80 people were killed and hundreds of houses destroyed by floods and avalanches that besieged Afghanistan recently.
But insecurity, logistical hurdles such as damaged roads and the limited capacity of provincial bodies slowed the humanitarian response in many affected regions.
According to Corsino, the sheer magnitude of the disaster was a challenge in itself and further complicated prompt relief in some remote districts.
On Friday, a WFP vehicle was attacked in the volatile Zabul province in the south. And a truck carrying aid to flood victims in Nimruz province was plundered by gunmen in neighbouring Farah province, the UN agency reported.
Officials warn that Afghanistan’s floods season is not yet over. With spring rainfalls and temperatures rising, snow on the mountains can quickly melt and cause further flooding.
|A young Afghan man in Kabul carries foodstuffs provided by WFP|
However, Corsino said he felt that authorities were well prepared for any further flooding. “I’m optimistic that the government of Afghanistan and the UN will be able to respond promptly should more flooding happen in the coming days,” he said.
Figures given by the Afghan government, but unverified by the UN, indicate that up to 10,000 houses were damaged in the recent spell of natural disasters. Floods have also extensively damaged rural and urban economies, affecting the livelihoods of hundreds of families.
Officials in Kabul say the government is unable to provide long-term assistance to help victims rebuild their houses and lives.
In addition, Afghanistan’s centralised disaster management system allows only the president to authorise the disbursement of US $200 to each family that lost a member during a natural disaster.
“The President has not yet approved death payment for the latest flooding and avalanches,” said Adrak of ANDMA, adding the government would rebuild damaged schools, hospitals and other public facilities.
However, a UN official in Kabul said the international organisation would consider post-disaster assistance focused on sustainable recovery in the affected provinces.
Flood response highlights limited humanitarian capacity