13 May 2024 About 40,000 children have lost their homes in northern Afghanistan after torrential rains and flash floods ripped through villages and swamped farmland, said Save the Children.

Baghlan is the most severely affected area where the provincial de facto authorities say more than 12,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, impacting an estimated 80,000 people – at least half of whom are children. So far 154 people have been confirmed dead, according to the de facto authorities in Baghlan, but this number is likely to change, with wide variations in the reporting of the numbers killed and injured as rescue operations continue.

Save the Children visited one village in Baghlan where 19 children died, including five from one family. One man described being trapped under a collapsed wall and being unable to stop his neighbour and her 2-month-old baby being swept away by the fast flowing water. About 250 houses in the village were completely destroyed in less than two hours by the force of the rain and floods.

 Azra*, 13, was at home with her family when the storm started:

“All of a sudden, the water started to rise above our boundary [wall]. We moved to the rooftop quickly as it [the water] was quite high. People from the nighbourhood were crying for help and running to safer places with their lives, but many people died. Our neighbourhood lost five members of their family. It was a horrible experience. I am still scared that the flood might hit again.”

Save the Children is operating a ‘clinic on wheels’ in Baghlan as part of its emergency response programme. The clinic includes male and female doctors, mental health and child protection specialists, as well mobile child friendly spaces. Children in the flood hit areas have little access to clean water, with some reporting stomach problems to our health teams.

Arshad Malik, Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan, said:

“Children are scared. Many have lost everything – not only their homes, but their schools and the places where they play. They have lost everything that’s familiar. They have lost all routine.

Families in Baghlan rely on agriculture for their incomes – and thousands of acres of farmland have been reduced to mud by the torrential waters. Lives and livelihoods will take time to be rebuilt.

These exceptionally heavy rains and floods are yet another sign of how our climate is changing too fast for families to adapt to it. It is hurting those who are least responsible for the damage – children.

We are asking the international donor community to address the immediate and long term impacts of the climate crisis in Afghanistan through additional funding to help the country prepare for and cope with the impacts of extreme weather at a community level.”

Save the Children has been supporting communities and protecting children’s rights across Afghanistan since 1976, including during periods of conflict and natural disasters. We have programmes in nine provinces and work with partners in an additional seven provinces. Since August 2021, we’ve been scaling up our response to support the increasing number of children in need. We deliver health, nutrition, education, child protection, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and livelihood support.

*denotes names changed to protect identity.