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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Emergency in Northern Afghanistan

Efforts to help Afghanistan’s poorest families survive the winter are underway. As previously reported in Perspective, the coming winter is promising to be a brutal one for people living in the Northeast, where droughts during the growing season have already compromised the food supply of these farming communities.

As always, HOPE International Development Agency seeks to bridge the gap from emergency to survival and from chronic neediness to sustainable self-sufficiency. So even as short-term aid in the form of food rations is distributed to Afghani families, we are working with the people to create reliable supplies of food and income.

A Seed Bank in a village establishes a system for increasing the amount of available seed in a community. Members contribute seed, draw upon the fund when they need to, and pay it back with modest ‘interest’. An Animal Bank grants people the incredible food and labour resource that is a cow or an ox.

Both systems are being established alongside HOPE’s distribution of emergency aid. This help, both short and long-term in nature, could not come at a better time.

Grandmother Qahar, shown in the photo above, is smiling - despite the fact that she has just demonstrated that her family of six has only 4 kilograms of flour left to eat. She has just been told that not only will they be helped through the winter, but they will also receive an ox and enough seed from the Seed Bank for next year’s harvest. She knows that her family’s odds have been phenomenally improved.

We know many, many families like the Qahars who are sick, despondent, and frankly, terrified. We are asking our readers to help us reach as many families as possible. Remember, it is not just about the crisis today – it is about their chances tomorrow.

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