Drought in Afghanistan, FAOs contribution to the response and procurement experiences
2018 is a year in which the drought trend has generated a particularly high humanitarian caseload as compared to recent years. An extended period of dryness occurred during the 2017/2018 winter planting season; in most parts of the country, there was a precipitation deficit over 70% during the wet season, and field interview and surveys at that time suggested farmers were already feeling negative impacts of the dry spell in the early 2018.
In order to quantify these field reports and assess the extent and severity of drought impacts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Afghanistan conducted a rapid dry spell assessment in March 2018. This rapid assessment found out that in all 20 surveyed provinces, farmers consistently reported damages and losses in agriculture production due to insufficient water. These losses particularly affected wheat (the country's staple crop) and livestock. The drought has resulted in fields left unplanted, crops withered, pastures degraded, and livestock without sufficient feed and fodder.
More than 90% of affected farmers have reported a lack of seeds for the current planting season, while 48% of affected pastoralists have experienced livestock mortality and/or reduced livestock productivity.
FAO's response is made in close coordination with respective Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) focusing on saving livelihoods and building resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers and herders, where one of the components of which is procurement of agricultural inputs. This equates to provision of the certified wheat seeds (2 154.50 MT), quality fertilizers (4 309 MT), pulses seeds (41.70 MT), vegetable seeds (4.04 MT), concentrated animal feed (12 870 MT), drought resistant fodder crop seeds (205.36 MT) and animal health support so that the country's farmers, pastoralists and food producers' can protect their livelihoods and improve Afghanistan's food and nutrition security.
FAO, considering the support to emergency and fact that swift action has to be undertaken, applied its fast track procedures and 100 percent of the inputs were procured from the local market. The quality of the response to FAO calls for procurement tenders from the private Firms and Companies is assessed as overall satisfactorily. The majority of bidders exercised high sense of social responsibility by delivering the inputs in timely and effective manner, yet, there were some lessons learnt, especially with some new suppliers. These experiences of procurement in emergency environment in Afghanistan will be summarised by FAO for future references.
Ilhom Muhomediev, Int. Procurement Officer, FAO Afghanistan Ezatullah Noori, Emergency Coordination Officer, FAO Afghanistan