Ali Hakimi, IFRC Afghanistan
Flash floods from heavy rains between late March and early April resulted in far-reaching devastation in the western province of Herat, which is usually weighed down by drought.
The extent of the disaster is extreme. Hundreds of people are directly affected by the flooding, with 150 wells destroyed and more than a thousand farm animals perished.
Most of the affected families live in the Kohsan and Ghorian districts that border Iran, approximately 100 km to the west of Herat. These two districts comprise a population of 15,000 people from 40 surrounding villages, living in mud-brick homes.
Agricultural canals around Islam Qala village are severely damaged and require reconstruction, to enable the farmers to once again grow their crops.
Livelihoods have been disrupted, with 95 shops in need of rebuilding. Somehow, the trade of farmers and shopkeepers is inter-dependent as one provides the produce and the other the marketplace.
As these are the two main sources of income, it is critical that the villagers recover quickly to resume their work and restore the local economy. Houses ruined, belongings lost
Along the main road, the wreckage is evident. With debris strewn on both sides of the road, people continue to salvage belongings from the ruins while others look on helplessly, at what used to be their home.
Children seem to feel the most affected. However, they are the ones who rally around their parents, somehow hoping to provide some consolation to them.
“I am not very good at helping my parents rebuild our house but I can take care of my small brother while my mother is busy,” said nine-year-old Nilab Hamidi, who lost many of her possessions in the flooding.
“We are now living in a tent donated by the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS). It is not as comfortable as our house but it shelters us from the rain and cold, mostly at nights,” she said.
Not far from Nilab’s house, sits an old lady in what used to be her home. Her house is completely buried under the mud and she is without even a plate to have a meal on.
“We were shocked when the whole village was hit by waters in the evening. We could only save ourselves. We ran out of our houses and escaped to the road which led to the next village,” said Dirkhani, aged 72.
“The next day, my sons returned and saw that the village was still affected by the floodwaters. After two days, the flood levels dropped and we came back home. The house was in a mess. We lost all our household items. There is no drinking water either as our well was destroyed,” she added.
Nilab, Dirkhani and many affected individuals in the Kohsan district received blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheets, jerry cans as well as tents from the ARCS.
Immediately after the flooding catastrophe was made public, two ARCS Emergency Mobile Unit teams were deployed. ARCS is still operating in these villages, providing medical assistance to the wounded.
“I helped the ARCS assessment team compile data and provided them with reliable information. Simultaneously, I assisted distressed individuals locate their things, buried under the mud and water,” remarked Said Omid, an ARCS youth volunteer.
“Although it was a sad time for me and the villagers, I made every effort to give them physical and psychological support.” He added