Mapping Support to the Government of Afghanistan to Help Inform Drought Preparedness and Planning

Below-normal snow and rainfall, and above-normal temperatures due to prevailing La Niña conditions since late 2020 are beginning to impact people across Afghanistan. As the risk of drought looms, iMMAP is providing mapping support to the Afghan Government, in particular, the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, to help understand the current situation and make informed decisions related to drought preparedness and planning.

An Afghan woman carries water home for drinking in western Afghanistan from a water source also being used by livestock. (Enayatullah Azad - Norwegian Refugee Council)

Afghanistan has been experiencing below-normal snow and rainfall since October 2020, due to a moderate to strong La Niña registered during the second half of 2020. These conditions, in addition to above normal temperatures, are expected to continue through the first half of 2021.

The present drought-like conditions, as drought has not yet been officially declared by the Afghan Government, being experienced across much of the country are impacting both agriculture, which provides a livelihood to nearly 80 percent of the population, as well as the availability of water for drinking, washing, and sanitation. Mid-March through to the end of July (the main wheat season) will likely be the peak period during which drought-like conditions impacts on crops and livestock would manifest.

The current food crisis is one of the worst suffered in Afghanistan in recent decades, with nearly 11 million people in Afghanistan experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) between March and May 2021. This acute food security crisis compounds social and economic hardships already faced by millions of people in Afghanistan due to the COVID-19 pandemic and years of conflict.

Food insecurity is now on par with the 2018-2019 drought, leaving Afghanistan with the second-highest number of people in emergency food insecurity in the world.

Climate maps developed by iMMAP for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority

iMMAP has been providing direct drought-related support to the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) the principal institution at the national level with the mandate to coordinate and manage all aspects related to disaster risk management in Afghanistan.

As per the request of ANDMA and other partners, several climate maps were prepared by iMMAP‘s information management (IM) and geographic information systems (GIS) teams, including snow cover, precipitation, temperature, and drought risk.

The climate maps visualize various aspects of the current drought-like conditions, as well as drought outlook in Afghanistan, and were based on the analysis of remote sensing data available from online sources such as the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data set.

The maps were presented to and shared with ANDMA to support analysis during technical meetings and discussions hosted by them, including their drought contingency planning workshops. By providing this accurate, relevant, and timely mapping support, iMMAP is assisting ANDMA to anticipate the potential impacts of La Niña expected in the country in 2021 and facilitate informed decisions related to drought preparedness and planning.

Members of iMMAP’s IM/GIS Team present to the Deputy Minister for Disaster Coordination and Director of the Geographic Information Systems, April 15, 2021

In addition to the production and sharing of map products, iMMAP’s IM/GIS experts have also been actively participating in several technical meetings with ANDMA and other key stakeholders involved in the drought response planning, such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

iMMAP will continue to provide close IM-related support to ANDMA by updating these climate maps when required, as well as continuing the engagement in ANDMA’s technical meetings and discussions.

Our close and longstanding partnership with ANDMA is very important to us. We wish to continue supporting ANDMA in taking the lead in disaster management and disaster risk reduction as the nodal authority through better data and better decisions.Mr. Goyal, iMMAP Country Representative in Afghanistan

iMMAP is an international not-for-profit organization that provides IM products and services to humanitarian and development organizations, enabling partners to make informed decisions that ultimately provide high-quality targeted assistance to the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Funded by USAID, iMMAP has been providing direct technical support to the Afghan Government since 2010 to coordinate preparedness and response for the numerous natural hazards that occur in the country every year and result in the loss of lives, livelihoods, and property. The need for this kind of support will become ever more critical, as annual droughts in many parts of Afghanistan will likely become the norm by 2030.