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Drought Hits Afghan North
Farmers are selling off their animals and trekking to other areas as the lack of rain makes for a long dry summer.
By Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi in Mazar-e-Sharif (ARR No. 222, 13-Jul-06)
Many farmers in northern Afghanistan are on the move in a migration caused by the region’s worst drought in five years.
On June 29, a first group consisting of 200 families from the northwestern province of Badghis arrived in the north-central Samangan region, more than 200 kilometres away, in what is expected to be a larger flow. Their ultimate destination is Kunduz, further east again, where they hope the nearby river Amu Darya will ensure there is enough water.
The population movement is a symptom of a wider problem affecting a swathe of provinces across northern Afghanistan, which is flatter than the rest of the country, and where agricultural and pasture land has been hard hit by a lack of spring rains this year.
Officials in Samangan say they are struggling to cope with the influx, as their own province too is suffering the effects of drought. Some farmers in Samangan are beginning to move on themselves.
The families from Badghis have lost their livestock and crops because of the drought, and have come to Samangan in hope of finding drinking water for the animals they still have.
One of the migrants, Nazar Gul, lives with his wife and four kids in a sack-made tent, too flimsy to prevent the heat of the sun. They made the trip after their crops withered and animals died.
“There is no water in our province because of the harsh drought," Nazar Gul told IWPR. "I think that if we’d stayed there a few days more, my kids would had died of thirst."