Afghanistan: Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment – Afghanistan


The impacts of natural hazards are increasing worldwide due to population growth, urbanization, globalization and climate change induced changes in extreme weather conditions (UNISDR and CRED, 2016). Poor and fragile countries are the hardest hit by disasters, as the population has less capacity to respond to and recover from these shocks (Hallegatte et al., 2015; Jongman et al., 2015). In addition, there is a close relationship between fragility, conflict and disaster. On the one hand, disasters caused by natural hazards can lead to resource scarcity and social grievances, and have been shown to significantly increase the risk of violent conflict (Nel and Righarts, 2008; Xu et al., 2016 ). On the other hand, conflict and fragility increase social vulnerability and can therefore intensify the impacts of disasters.

Being both a country prone to natural hazards and conflict, Afghanistan is highly exposed and vulnerable to disasters, including floods, earthquakes, droughts, avalanches and landslides. An estimated 59 percent of the population is affected by climate shocks, while 19 percent suffer from security-related shocks (World Bank, 2016), with more than 16,000 deaths from floods and earthquakes since. 1990. In addition to the impact on the population, hazards frequently affect economic sectors and major infrastructures. Prolonged droughts strongly affect agricultural production, especially since irrigation infrastructure is often lacking. Some of the main road transport corridors, such as the Salang Pass connecting Kabul to the northern regions, are closed every year due to avalanches and landslides. Strong earthquakes occur every few years around Afghanistan – there have been around 100 destructive earthquakes since 1900 according to the CATDAT database (Daniell et al., 2011). In 2015, a 7.5 Mw earthquake in the Hindu Kush mountains left 117 people dead and destroyed more than 7,000 homes (IFRC, 2015).

Effective disaster risk management is therefore increasingly important to support the development and stability of Afghanistan. Over the past decades, disaster risk management in Afghanistan has focused on responding (Shroder and Shroder, 2014) and recovery (Sadiqi et al., 2017) to events. Recently, the Afghan government has started to work more intensively with development partners, including the World Bank, United Nations organizations and various NGOs, on prevention and preparedness activities. This includes the construction of physical protection measures against floods, landslides and avalanches, as well as the implementation of community early warning systems.

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