Early Warning Tool Helps Afghanistan Cope with Drought

Home / Climate Change / Early Warning Tool Helps Afghanistan Cope with Drought
Early Warning Tool Helps Afghanistan Cope with Drought

Persistent drought across Afghanistan is taking its toll on farmers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cites the country’s alarming effects of climate change.

It says that the country’s economy mainly depends on agriculture, and at least 60% of its population relies on rain-fed agriculture. Changes in precipitation patterns are causing severe droughts and intensifying food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease in the country.

The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 report likewise places Afghanistan in 6th place as a country most affected by climate change. 

The county’s lack of a functioning irrigation system means it relies on snow melt from the mountains to keep rivers flowing and water its fields.

Hunger plagues the country

The Human Rights Watch report in November 2021 says the country is suffering widespread famine due to an economic and banking crisis stemming from corruption.

The World Food Programme report shows that in 2023, 15.3 million Afghanistan are food insecure, 3.2 million are acutely malnourished, including children below five years old, and a third of its population, 28.8 million, relies on humanitarian assistance to meet food needs.

According to the report, 2023 sees a third year of consecutive droughts, resulting in a 30-355% decline in wheat. It further says that “the economy is unable to support a significant percentage of the population. Persistent drought has limited foreign investment, and the loss of international budgetary support has driven the economy” and that “acute hunger remains persistently high.”

Considering the country’s harrowing consequences of persistent droughts, an accurate early warning system for droughts and timely climate information will be critical.

Development of a drought early warning tool

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) developed the Afghanistan Drought Early Warning Decision Support (AF-DEWS) Tool, a cloud-based online platform, to provide decision-makers with maps and data to enable further analysis (Amarnath et al., 2023).

The IWMI report -188 summarises the development of the Afghanistan Drought Early Warning Decision Support (AF-DEWS) Tool, which provides a wide range of indicators/indices to assess the severity of meteorological (rainfall anomaly, standardized precipitation index), hydrological (snow cover index, streamflow drought index, surface water supply index), and agricultural (vegetation health index, integrated drought severity index) droughts (Amarnath et al., 2023).

The research report authors also “evaluated historical drought events, specifically the widespread drought event of 2018, to identify the precise impact of the drought that has affected more than 13 million people across 22 of the 34 provinces in the severe to extreme drought category. Key drought indices were selected to thoroughly evaluate the major drought events and their impacts on crop production. Satellite-derived (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer [MODIS) Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) data and observed wheat production data provided by the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) were used. This demonstrates the capabilities of the AF-DEWS Tool in supporting drought early warning and informing preparedness and risk reduction measures.”

Read the full report by browsing the links in the “Sources” section below.


Afghanistan Facing Famine. (2021, November 11). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/11/11/afghanistan-facing-famine

WFP Afghanistan: Situation Report, 2023, June 11. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/wfp-afghanistan-situation-report-25-june-2023

Afghanistan Drought Early Warning Decision Support (AF-DEWS) Tool. (2023). International Water Management Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/publications/iwmi-research-reports/iwmi-research-report-188/

Afghanistan drought early warning decision support (AF-DEWS) tool. (2023, December 13). UNDRR. Retrieved from https://www.preventionweb.net/publication/afghanistan-drought-early-warning-decision-support-af-dews-tool

Afghanistan: The alarming effects of climate change. (2023, August 1). OCHA. Retrieved from https://www.unocha.org/news/afghanistan-alarming-effects-climate-change

Leave a Reply

Translate »