Droughts and land degradation exacerbated by climate change could further destabilise Afghanistan, an official from the country’s environment protection agency has told RTCC.
Ghulam Malikyar, Deputy Director General, National Environment Protection Agency, warned that desertification and deforestation were already having profound effects on the country.
“Climate change is not just an environmental issue in Afghanistan, it will also contribute to instability,” he said.
“The loss of ecosystem productivity forces people from rural areas to urban areas, and we have the problem then of sheltering them. This is the main issue we are suffering now.
“We are losing our land productivity and land degradation is another issue. We have limited glaciers which are the major water resource in my country, and they are melting now.”
Afghanistan has suffered more than three decades of varying degrees of conflict, dramatically reducing its resilience to decreasing rainfalls and other climatic changes.
In October 2012 the government launched a USD $6 million initiative largely funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to build resilience amongst vulnerable communities.
The focus is primarily on building adaptive capacity, given the country’s tiny carbon footprint.
Approximately 80% of the population rely on the land for their livelihoods, a large proportion at subsistence level.
The country experienced a severe drought in 1998-2006 and more recently in 2008-09 which led to significant losses of crops such as wheat, rice, maize and potato.
Climate change is predicted to cause an increase in mean annual temperatures in Afghanistan, together with a decrease in mean annual rainfall and an increase in the intensity of rainfalls.