Rural Community Vulnerability to Food Security Impacts of Climate Change in Afghanistan: Evidence from Balkh, Herat, and Nangarhar Provinces
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Climate change is taking its toll on Afghanistan. Warming temperatures and decreasing precipitation levels over the last fifty years have led to innumerable weather anomalies causing droughts, floods, unseasonal precipitation, falling ground water tables, desertification, and loss of biodiversity. While it is projected that further change in climatic conditions will take place over the coming decades, the impacts of these environmental stresses on the living conditions and livelihoods of Afghans have already been significant and adverse. Among all population groups, rural communities in Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their strong dependence on agriculture for living. This exploratory research used a qualitative methodology to investigate and document firsthand the vulnerability of the rural communities to climate change impacts in the context of food security in Afghanistan. To this end, three villages in Balkh, Herat, and Nangarhar provinces were studied for their exposure to climate change and the communities’ adaptive capacity to cope with and avert the climate-related stresses. Additional key informant interviews were conducted to learn about similar issues in other rural regions of the country. The study found that climate change has substantially contributed to increased food insecurity in the rural communities throughout Afghanistan over the last two decades and that the rural households are facing real challenges to generate income from agricultural activities while taking desperate measures to cope with and adapt to climatic conditions.