15 Nov 2017 Story Disasters & conflicts

Afghanistan’s climate stories - Interview with Ahmad Reza Rafat

My name is Ahmad Reza Rafat and I’m the Director of the Bamyan Disaster Management Authority. I have been working here for the last 7 years, but I’m originally from Yakawlang district and was born in Pitab Zarin village.

''Ahmad Reza Rafat.Most people in Bamyan are busy with agriculture, but the people of Pitab Zarin are really focused on it! The majority of villagers there have also realized that the overexploitation of pastures is causing more natural disasters, which in turn creates more environmental damage. Because of this degradation, people walk very long distances to collect bushes and food to burn for fuel in winter. But generally the people in Pitab Zarin respect their environment – we have electricity, water, and small gardens, all of which are signs of our environmentally friendly life.

In recent years we’ve also noticed the weather getting warmer. Fourteen years ago, we couldn’t grow barley or wheat in Qarghanato village because the weather was too cold, but now people grow wheat and potatoes there. Its the same in Pitab Zarin. There are more hot days now. In the past, Bamyan had a long winter; it would take 6 months for snow to melt, but now it only takes 4 or 5 months.

We have other natural disasters in Bamyan too. In 1392 [2013], an avalanche hit Sarkij village and killed two people. When we heard about this we walked almost three hours to get to the village, but the lack of facilities and tools meant that we couldn’t reach the people in time.

This past spring, river floods destroyed a house, but thankfully nobody died. We responded with 24 hours of construction and as a result people were safe for a short while, but after 5 days, another flood hit the village destroying 21 houses on the floodway, and 3 houses alongside the flood way. Luckily, this flood didn’t kill anybody either because people were now more aware about how to stay safe when the water comes.

My role with the Disaster Management Authority is to coordinate with the administrations in the area of disaster management. During times of emergency, we help with the people and raise their awareness as much as we can. But with more facilities we can work better and on a larger scale. If we can do projects for disaster risk reduction that focus on watershed establishment, tree plantation, we would have a lot less disasters. But this requires more human and financial resources than we have right now.

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