Teleconnection of Drought and Migration: Afghanistan Case Study

Selim Dogan
Afghanistan is a drought prone country and located in mostly semi-arid and arid regions of the world. Nomads (Kuchi) and rural farmer communities are the most vulnerable to this natural disaster, because their life is totally dependent on agriculture and livestock. Meteorological anomaly information shows that drought occurs in every 10 or 15 years in southwestern and central areas of Afghanistan. Annual precipitation is very low in these areas and people who live there depend on agriculture. They lost their crops and livestock when drought occurs. Drought forces people to move larger cities first (internal displacement) and then migrate to neighboring countries. Most of the precipitation occurs during the winter as snow and rain. Snow melting is a good water resource during the spring and summer seasons. Melted water is used for irrigation purposes. Farmers and nomads lose their cereal productions and livestock in case of winter season precipitation deficiency. They would face to famine if precipitation deficiency turns into a severe drought. The concerned communities are forced to migrate for food and water safety. Environmental degradation is, exacerbated by climate change and, another concern for farmers and nomads. Political conflict is not the only reason for migration. The phenomenon of drought is another major reason of migration beside of conflict, and droughts trigger civil turmoil and political conflict. Many people in Afghanistan migrated to neighboring countries during 1998-2002 severe droughts. In this study, Afghan refugee numbers in Pakistan and Iran and the precipitation anomalies have been analyzed in order to investigate the teleconnection of drought and migration. Many Afghan refugees prefer these two countries for lingual and cultural similarities, besides easiness of travel. Nowadays Afghan refugees prefer the industrialized world for migration, especially to Turkey and European countries for seeking safer life in better conditions.
Drought; Migration; Afghanistan
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