Published on February 22, 2014
Socio-Economic Impacts of Climate Change in Afghanistan
Background Support NAPA Process (UNEP/NEPA) Review climate projections Temperature, Precipitation to 2100 Assessment of ANDS and Sector Strategies Agriculture, Social Protection, Energy & Water Consultation with key stakeholders Donors, Ministries, NGOs, Field Visits Kabul, Bamyan, Balkh, Jowzjan
Challenges Climate projection models require refinement due to the lack of reliable historic meteorological records. Complex topography means variations in climate response, particularly precipitation, are likely to be large. Sporadic & poor quality socio-economic data make modelling of costs and benefits of adaptation difficult Poor national security also restricts the ability to monitor impacts and mainstream effective responses.
Historic Climate Trends Arid and semi-arid continental climate with cold winters and hot summers, with drought ongoing since 1990s Mean annual temperature has increased by 0.6°C since 1960, at an average rate of around 0.13°C Warming trends are most pronounced in Autumn (SON). Mean rainfall over Afghanistan has decreased slightly (at an average rate of 0.5mm per month (or 2 percent per decade) since 1960, due to lower spring rainfall.
Projections - Temperature Projected Significant warming across all regions of Afghanistan Average increases in temperature of between 2C and 6.2C by 2100 Warming is most rapid in spring/summer with this trend being marked in the north and the central plains of Afghanistan. Substantial increases in the frequency of days and nights that are considered ‘hot’ in current climate, especially during summer months. Up to 2030s, the amount of warming is not sensitive to global emission scenarios. By 2060, impacts are sensitive to global emissions projections.
Projections - Temperature
Projections - Rainfall In the short term, average rainfall is projected to show to be fairly flat with potential for small increase, 10-20mm. Long term changes 2090s show conditions are generally drier (-40 mm high, -20 mm medium, -10 mm low) Much of the drying is due to decreases in spring rainfall (MAM). Winters are expected to be significantly drier in the South.
Projections - Rainfall
Climatic Hazards Exacerbation Increased of existing hazards heat stress Drought/changes in precipitation Floods due to rapid snow melt Lower river flow rates
Sectoral Impacts - Agriculture Increased soil evaporation, reduced river flow from earlier snow melt, and less frequent rain during peak cultivation seasons Increased crop failure levels due to water shortages, with increase in amount of potentially productive land left uncultivated. Narrower choice of crop options with water-intensive varieties less attractive compared to drought hardy varieties, including poppy. Large parts of the agricultural economy will become marginal without significant expansion of irrigation and water management. The existing irrigation system is operating at a low efficiency rate of about 25 percent, with significant potential for improvement.
Sectoral Impacts – Water Cumulative effects of more frequent and intense droughts on reservoirs and groundwater could threaten the water supply of entire communities in the most arid regions of Afghanistan, Rises in winter and spring temperatures will lead to more rapid and earlier snow melt, creating risk of flash flooding exacerbated by hardened drought effected soils. The lack of water availability will increase pressure on Afghanistan and surrounding states to claim the greatest possible share of regional water sources in the longer term with potential likelihood for political dispute.
Sectoral Impacts – Livelihoods The poor are most vulnerable to climate change impacts, with food security deteriorating and impacts felt most by those in the agricultural economy. Distributional effects are more likely to fall upon women and children, and upon those involved in subsistence agriculture or pastoralism. A large proportion of the Afghan population live just above the poverty line climatic shocks have the potential to tip a large %of population into poverty. Impacts on human health, such as increased prevalence of disease affect the amount of labour available for agriculture and non-farm rural activities. The effects of environmental degradation reduce the availability of animal feed, and the funds available for livestock husbandry.
Sectoral Impacts - Energy Mitigation GHG emissions in absolute and per capita terms are extremely low (0.5 tons Co2e pc). Electricity sourced from indigenous/imported hydro. Low carbon growth is sensible under development/population growth scenarios but should not preclude indigenous fossil fuel resources. Developmental impact should take precedence over emissions considerations in order to build resilience and adaptive capacity. The limited reach of regional grids mean that off grid renewable technologies, (small hydro, solar PV, solar thermal and wind) are important. Adaptation Impacts are most likely to be felt in hydro-electricity production, with higher winter (rapid snow melt)and lower summer flow rates (drought, irrigation) Large thermal power plant and transmission infrastructure are also susceptible to heat stress and flooding
Going Forward Improve modelling work and climatic data collection in country, using existing available data and expanded climate station network Improve 'climate awareness and resilience' of development strategies and programmes at Ministry and Donor level, through risk screening and mainstreaming Ensure better integration of Agriculture and Water management strategies and pooling of resources Work towards costed adaptation investment plans to access climate adaptation funding mechanisms currently under development (eg UNDP) Government experts should continue to engage with wider regional planning and development bodies to share best practice from central and south Asia
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