Press Releases October 2012 - Afghanistan, UNEP Launch USD $6 Million Initiative to Help Communities Adapt to Effects of Climate Change - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
United Nations Environment Programme
environment for development Search 
News Centre
 
 Home News Centre
 Media Contacts
 Press Releases
 In Focus
 Speeches
 Photos
 Multimedia
 RSS / Podcasts
 Posters
 E-Cards

 Printable Version [Français][中文]
 

Afghanistan, UNEP Launch USD $6 Million Initiative to Help Communities Adapt to Effects of Climate Change

Bamyan, Afghanistan, 11 October 2012 - The Government of Afghanistan, through its National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), has launched a USD $6 million climate change initiative, the first of its kind in the country's history.

This landmark scheme - to be implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and funded mainly by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) - aims to help communities that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as drought, and to build the capacity of Afghan institutions to address climate change risk.

"The Government of Afghanistan is showing a remarkable commitment to working with communities for a landscape approach to dealing with climate change in the country," said Michael Keating, UN Afghanistan Resident Coordinator, speaking from Bamyan in the Central Highlands, some 200km west of Kabul.

"We also welcome the opportunity to help Afghan institutions better deal with shocks and hazards, and increase resilience at a decentralized level," he added.

UNEP identified Afghanistan as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, because of the potential impacts and its current limited capacity to react to these impacts. Climate change adaptation is especially important in developing nations, since those countries are predicted to bear the brunt of climate change effects. The overarching goal is to reduce the vulnerability of biological systems to these impacts.

Many of the agricultural activities in Afghanistan are dependent on the flow of rivers that originate in the Central Highlands area. However, natural ecosystems throughout the country are very fragile, and the degrading effects of increasing human activity in many areas are worsened by current climatic variability, mainly frequent droughts and extreme weather-induced floods and erosion.

"In Afghanistan, 79 per cent of the population is engaged in agricultural activities, the majority at subsistence level. So by working with communities, or with people helping people, we in Afghanistan can build in stronger adaption approaches to all our national development plans," said NEPA Director General Mostapha Zaher.

The country experienced a severe drought in 1998-2006 and more recently in 2008-09 which led to significant losses of crops such as wheat, rice, maize and potato. In addition, climate change is predicted to cause an increase in mean annual temperatures, a decrease in mean annual rainfall and an increase in the intensity of rainfalls (despite overall decrease in precipitation).

The scheme will be implemented in four locations: Badakhshan in the northeast, Balkh in the north, through the Koh-e Baba to Bamyan and Daikundi in the Central Highlands.

Interventions include improved water management and use efficiency; community-based watershed management; improved terracing, agroforestry and agro-silvo pastoral systems; climate-related research and early warning systems; improved food security; and rangeland management.

Watershed management activities at village level will include tree-planting, the terracing of slopes or the gathering of wild seeds to re-plant over-grazed mountainsides. Education and the development of vocational skills for the communities also play a key role in this project.

UNEP key partners on the ground include the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) working together with the USAID-funded Biodiversity Programme of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and local Afghan organisations and communities.

Notes to Editors

Afghanistan Facts & Figures

Afghanistan has an area of 652,000 square kilometers.

Up to 80 per cent of Afghans are directly dependent on natural resources for income and sustenance.

Agriculture provides livelihoods for more than 60 per cent of the population.

Since 1998, more than 6.7 million Afghans have been affected by disasters and extreme weather events such as drought, earthquakes, disease epidemics, sandstorms, and harsh winters.

About climate change adaptation

Climate change adaptation focuses on dealing with climate impacts. It refers to the adoption of policies and practices to prepare for the effects of climate change, accepting that complete avoidance is now impossible. Climate change mitigation tackles the causes of climate change.

More information is available here.

About the Global Environment Facility

The GEF unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. More information is available on the GEF website.

For additional information please contact:

Andrew Scanlon, Country Programme Manager, Afghanistan (Kabul) on Tel. +93 7966.30412 or andrew.scanlon@unep.org

UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 20 7625022 / +254 20 762 3088 / +254 20 762 5261 or unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Samantha Newport, Communications Advisor, Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch on + 41 22 917 8798 or Samantha.newport@unep.org

 
Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change. Picture/Anssi Kullberg


 

 

Further Resources

UN Climate Change Portal

The Global Environment Facility

 

Follow Us

Keep up to date with UNEP events on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

Twitter Facebook You Tube



UNEP on Facebook