Surprise downpour causes flash floods in Kabul

Published: 13 July 2012 9:34 CET

By Ali Hakimi

A surprise downpour in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul on Sunday, 8 July led to severe flash flooding that devastated a densely populated area of the city’s west. Typically, Kabul experiences dry weather during the summer season, which leaves even the Kabul river that runs through the city, dry. The flash flooding that occurred this week inundated the Kabul river with muddy water for a period, and washed away several houses near the banks of the river.

“It was afternoon and I was resting at home when the rain started, and then I heard people shouting ‘flood is coming’, so I frantically took all of my children to the roof to protect them from the flood because our house is near the river,” said Pari, 30-year-old, one of the affected residents in district 6 of Kabul city. “My husband was outside while the flood happened and as soon as he returned we went to a relative’s house. We are living with two other families in one house and my husband and other men are staying in the house to take care of our belongings,” she said.

Districts 6 and 13 have been most affected, and these districts are also the most congested areas in Kabul. In order to afford the expense of city living, two to four families typically live in one house, increasing the number of affected families. Most of the houses have one well, and the flooding damaged and contaminated water sources. Living rooms, kitchen and hallways of affected houses are covered with mud brought in by the flood.

Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) response teams visited and surveyed the affected area and with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, distributed food items including rice, cooking oil, salt, sugar, tea and beans, as well as non-food items such as tents, jerrycans, tarpaulins, blankets and kitchen sets.

Due to the sudden and unexpected onset of the flood, many people had no time to move their belongings to safer areas, and now their belongings are buried in the mud.

Joma Khan, a 50-year-old resident of the city, said the Red Crescent’s intervention would help get his family back to normal. “Since my house is full of mud, I slept alone on the roof last night. My wife and children are now with relatives,” he said. “I am so happy with the Red Crescent’s contribution as it means I can bring my family back because now I can install the tent on the roof and use it until we can clean and fix the entire house.”