Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

Afghan children fill canisters with water from a water pump outside their temporary homes on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Files/AFP
Updated 27 May 2018
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Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

  • Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought
  • More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces

KABUL: Rain and snow are as important as peace for Afghanistan. But the landlocked and mountainous country this year had its lowest rainfall for years, causing widespread drought and leaving 2 million people facing food shortages.
Livestock in many areas have died, and some farmers have been forced to send their herds for pasture to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Thousands of people have left their homes already due to water shortages, with fears that the situation will worsen in autumn, Afghan and UN officials say.
Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces, including the northern region — Afghanistan’s food basket — have been badly affected, they said.
The aid-reliant Afghan government has begun delivering aid to affected areas. But assistance will be needed for months to come. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rapid action was needed to enable delivery of food and water. More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces, it said.
“Drought is gripping large parts of Afghanistan, with more than 2 million people expected to become severely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance for survival,” OCHA said.
“A quick, comprehensive response will enable the delivery of food and water to the rural villages and help to avoid the migration of families to cities where they risk losing all of their few possessions, and where they lack shelter and access to health facilities and schools for their children,” it said.
Water points and fountains across the country have dried up, and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dry up, the organization said.
About 1.5 million goats and sheep in northeast regions are struggling to find food and more than half of the 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from lack of water.
Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought, limiting communities’ access to markets.
In Helmand, village elders reportedly need to obtain special approval from the armed groups to access markets in areas under government control.
In Uruzgan province, people often cannot access the main market in Tirinkot due to fighting and insecurity on the roads to the provincial capital. Following a temporary closure of the road to neighboring Kandahar province in April due to fighting, wheat prices went up by 50 percent in the city, and the price for fresh produce quadrupled within days.
Engineer Mohammed Sediq Hassani, chief of planning in the government’s Disaster Management Department, said the drought has directly and indirectly taken the lives of dozens of people.

“The impact of drought in terms of taking lives is intangible and slow. An indirect impact can be the recent floods, which claimed the lives of 73 people. Floods happen when there is a drought because of the change of the climate,” he told Arab News.


Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

Updated 10 December 2018
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Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

  • Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors
  • Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron needs to unify a country divided by the forces of globalization in a national addresses on Monday and end anti-government protests that will cut economic growth by about 0.1 percentage points, France’s finance minister said.
Protesters rioted in Paris and cities across France on Saturday in a fourth weekend of unrest that first erupted over high living costs but has morphed into a broader anti-Macron rebellion.
“Our country is deeply divided, between those who see that globalization has benefited them and others who can’t make ends meet, who say ... globalization is not an opportunity but a threat,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL.
“It is the president’s role to unify the country.”
Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors and would knock 0.1 percentage points off output in the final quarter.
Macron will make a televised address at 20:00 local Paris time (1900 GMT) as he seeks to placate “yellow vest” protesters, whose revolt poses the most formidable challenge yet to the 40-year-old leader’s 18-month presidency.
Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth — known as the ‘ISF’ — that Macron narrowed when he came into office, and which earned him the tag ‘president of the rich.
“Does the ISF help reduce poverty, reduce our debts, reduce public spending? No. If you want to hunt for money, go knocking on the doors of digital tech companies,” Le Maire said.
Le Maire said last Thursday that France would tax digital giants at a national level from 2019 if European Union states could not reach an agreement on a tax on digital revenues for the bloc.
“It is time they paid a fair level of tax,” he told RTL on Monday.