AFGHANISTAN: Impact of flooding

23 / 05 / 2024
Heavy rainfall between the 17th and 19th May 2012 in Sar-e-Pul province led to devastating floods in three districts, converged on the city of Sar-e-Pul, in the district of the same name, killing at least 20 people, injuring 100 others and destroying hundreds of homes. Photo credit: Afghan Red Crescent Society

Above-average precipitation and extreme rainfall events, mainly attributable to the combined effects of El Niño and climate change, have been triggering floods, flash floods, and mudslides in 25 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces since the end of February 2024. This has resulted in casualties, displacement, widespread housing and infrastructure damage, and significant crop and livestock losses (UN Climate Crisis Coordinator 16/05/2024; IFRC 15/05/2024). By 12 May, floods had affected more than 30,000 people throughout the country within the year (OCHA 12/05/2024). These events follow the end of an exceptionally dry winter season that delayed crop planting and threatened a fourth consecutive year of drought (AJ 14/04/2024; FEWS NET 23/01/2024). Floods are the most common natural hazard in Afghanistan. In 2024, soil aridity arising from previous droughts limited water absorption and increased run-off, resulting in worse flooding (WB 2021; AJ 10/05/2024).

Since 10 May, heavy rainfall in central, northern, and western Afghanistan have triggered severe flooding and mudslides in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Ghor, Faryab, Herat, and Takhar provinces, resulting in substantial loss of life and extensive damage (OCHA 12/05/2024; ECHO 14/05/2024; OCHA 20/05/2024). By 16 May, a total of 214 fatalities and 328 injuries were confirmed, including 128 children under five and 202 women (Health Cluster 17/05/2025). As areas become accessible, the number of casualties is expected to rise. Among the most affected districts are Burka and Baghal-e-Jadid districts in Baghlan province, which collectively record 80% of all deaths (OCHA 16/05/2024). The floods have destroyed or damaged around 12,000 homes in the affected provinces (ECHO 16/05/2024). Rescue operations and rapid assessments are underway, and there are wide variations in the reporting figures regarding the magnitude of the impact, with access constraints to some affected areas being a major challenge (STC 17/05/2024; OCHA 16/05/2024).

In April, heavy rainfalls triggered floods across Central, Central Highland, Northeastern, Northern, Southern, and Western regions (OCHA 17/04/2024; IR 19/04/2024). The most affected provinces included Badakhshan, Badghis, Farah, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunar, Laghman, Nimroz, Paktia, Parwan, Saripul, Takhar, Uruzgan, and Zabul. By 23 April, there were at least 90 fatalities and dozens of injuries reported across these provinces. The rainfall had also damaged more than 2,000 houses and killed thousands of livestock across the country (ECHO 24/04/2024). In March, heavy rainfall particularly affected Faryab province in the Northern region, Nangarhar province in Eastern region, and Daykundi province in Central Highland region. By 30 March, the floods had destroyed more than 1,500 acres of agricultural land and severely damaged 540 homes (OCHA 30/03/2024).

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