The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has provided animal feed to farmers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as part of a drought mitigation project.
Many of the smallholder farms across the region are seeing crop failure and high crop prices, and farmers have had to sell their animals for meat at low prices.
According to the FAO, many farmers are coping with the drought by digging deeper tube wells to source drinking and irrigation water. However, this is not a sustainable strategy. Deeper wells just mean that groundwater is becoming depleted faster. Such short-term coping techniques, coupled with the near-yearly droughts of the past two decades, mean that underground aquifers are emptier than ever before. Farmers know this strategy is not going to keep working in the long run. They know less rain is falling, they see river flows decrease, and they watch mountain snow cover shrink with each passing year.
With droughts happening so frequently, farmers barely have time to recover before the next one hits. High temperatures this year in parts of the country have also made the current drought particularly punishing. Decades of war have destroyed much of Afghanistan’s irrigation infrastructure. Without timely rebuilding of proper irrigation systems, many farmers fear they will not be able to go back to farming and ultimately lose their main source of livelihood.
FAO says drought is among the most devastating of natural hazards – crippling food production, depleting pastures, disrupting markets, and, at its most extreme, causing widespread human and animal deaths. Droughts can also lead to increased migration from rural to urban areas, placing additional pressures on declining food production. Herders are often forced to seek alternative sources of food and water for their animals, which can create conflict between pastoral and farming communities.