Afghanistan is large and diverse landscape that suffers from a variety of climate based hazards, of which, avalanches have a significant impact on the rural population in 11 out of the 34 provinces. From 2012 to 2016 there were a total of 16,235 people affected by avalanches, and 389 casualties.
Avalanches in Afghanistan are most likely to happen in the winter months (January to March) when there is a large amount of snowfall in the mountainous regions. Avalanches have the potential to destroy communication lines, the electric grid, road networks, homes, and livestock. This results in a negative impact on the local economy.
Afghanistan’s economy is mainly sustained by agricultural and livestock produce, therefore avalanches hinder the economy to a considerable extent (covering arable land, and killing livestock). Even a small avalanche can take away the source of income of an entire village and plunge its livelihood into uncertainty. While avalanches, itself are problematic, climate change has also increased the severity of the avalanches in Afghanistan, which means NGO’s and government need to reassess, and adjust their programs.
While it is not possible to completely avoid avalanches, we can mitigate the impact by implementing climate change adaption concepts into development projects, and by creating awareness through the education and use of information technology tools such as the Afghanistan Spatial Data Center (ASDC).