Today is the International Day of Disaster Reduction. But it’s also a time to talk about climate change. Why? The recent trend we see where floods, droughts and storms are on the rise is a result of climate change. Even with “just” a 1°C increase in global average temperatures since the industrial revolution, it has already changed the landscape of natural disasters dramatically.
Geophysical disasters, which are believed not to be affected by climate change, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, remained relatively stable over the last 30 years, while climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts almost tripled. This in itself should be evidence that climate change is real and has huge costs for our society.
Afghanistan has warmed more than the global average, with a 1.8°C increase since 1950. As the country is struggling to recover and develop against the backdrop of armed conflicts, the challenge is made worse by climate change, which has brought prolonged droughts, intensified floods and worsening heat waves.
Understanding how various sectors can be affected by climate change is the first step to tackling it:
Agriculture is likely to be hit particularly hard by climate change and yet it is the backbone of economy in this country (making up more than 20% of the total GDP). In particular, droughts, pest infestations and heat waves will add pressure on this already vulnerable sector. The good news is that we have a lot in our toolkit to help us cope. But we need to act quickly and act together.
Private and public actors, you all have a role to play in this global campaign to mitigate and adapt to climate change. First of all, learn what investments should be prioritised:
As for the specific adaptation measures one can deploy on the ground, the “climate-smart agriculture” framework developed by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is immensely useful in planning and coordinating adaptation efforts. Learn more about what it entails and how you can help famers adopt these techniques:
For more information, you can refer to the climate-smart agriculture sourcebook here: http://www.fao.org/3/i3325e/i3325e.pdf. However, remember to assess the local situation before deciding which techniques are most relevant.
Let’s take this opportunity to bring sustainable agriculture to Afghanistan, and along with it, food security.