Afghanistan is a country exposed to earthquakes, floods, droughts, mass movements and other hazards. Recent droughts in the years 2000, 2006, and 2011 have impacted millions of Afghans. Earthquakes have also caused fatalities, injuries and losses of various kinds. On 22 June 2009, UN-SPIDER was invited to a briefing among United Nations agencies in Kabul to discuss how best to make use of spatialdata/mapping tools to support disaster-risk reduction and emergencyresponse activities in Afghanistan.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Shirish Ravan, UN-SPIDER
The mission was conducted via an inter-agency meeting with representatives of United Nations agencies in Afghanistan that contribute to disaster-risk management and emergencyresponse efforts in this country.
The mission allowed UN agencies working under the umbrella of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to become aware of UN-SPIDER, its mission, and the type of technical advisory support that it can provide to countries such as Afghanistan. The important role of remote sensing in humanitarian response and planning was underlined through examples provided by OCHA concerning recent floods that impacted this country, including the most recent one in May 2009, where UN-SPIDER was requested to provide technical support. UN-SPIDER pledged additional technical expertise to support both the Government and the United Nations Country Team in Afghanistan to ensure this forum is closely linked to available resources; and encouraged the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority to establish a working group as a way to promote the sharing of information as a way to improve efforts targeting disaster-risk reduction and emergency response.
For the first time, about 70 percent of a country has been mapped using an advanced remote sensing technique known as hyperspectral imaging. In order to assist Afghanistan in understanding their abundant natural resources, in particular the development of an economically viable minerals market, the U.S.
Rainfall and torrential flooding in western province of Herat has devastated many areas, killing some 14 people, including seven children, injuring 30 others, damaging more than 250 houses and destroying around 300 hectares of agricultural land.
Flash floods killed at least 10 people and destroyed hundreds of houses in different parts of Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan, on 7 February, according to the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS).
According to assessments conducted to date, floods have affected approximately 10,000 households in five provinces in the Northern region (Jawzjan, Faryab, Balkh, Samangan and Sari Pul) and four provinces in the Northeastern region (Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan). Flooding in the north and northeast is expected to continue and worsen, due to heavy rains and to snow melting.
On 20-21 April, flooding was reported in 10 locations on the outskirts of Mazar city and 3 in Chemtal district of Balkh province. Two children were killed, a total of 240 houses completely destroyed, 157 partially damaged. 240 families have lost everything.