By: Swati Mishra
After twenty years, The Taliban have returned to power Afghanistan appears to be without a glimmer of hope. There is only damage and destruction in the decades-long war. It has an impact on every part of life, and one of the Taliban’s irreparable consequences is the degradation of the environment. The country has been destabilised and rebuilt several times over the years. It’s nearly impossible to think about the horrific ways the environment is destined for mayhem in the midst of such soul-shattering political turmoil.
Rapidly Rising Temperature
Afghanistan is situated in a desert environment and hot temperature is foreseeable. But where the global average temperature is 0.82 degrees Celsius, Afghanistan is breaking all the records with 1.8 degrees Celsius rise in temperature since the 1950s. In such instances, residents turn to their governments for assistance and support, but Afghans do not have the pleasure of doing so. Their government has deserted the country, leaving them destitute and bereft. The current rulers are unconcerned about this; instead, they are focused on enacting laws that violate practically all human rights. The Taliban’s previous reign inflicted so much damage on the Afghan people that they have yet to recuperate. More difficulties are now mounting up, threatening to drown the country, metaphorically speaking, because there isn’t enough water to even quench every Afghan’s thirst.
Drought, Hunger and Starvation
Every day, Afghanistan becomes hotter and drier. It is not news to the world that the Earth’s rising temperature is a wild card ticket to every disaster imaginable. Drought is likely to become an annual occurrence by 2030 in Afghanistan. We must not forget that drought carries with its terrible allies, namely ‘Crop failure’ and ‘Hunger’. The Taliban’s authority poses a grave threat to human existence in every way. The cost of food is skyrocketing, while millions of people are struggling to feed their families. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 80% of Afghans did not have enough food to consume, after they seized, the number reached 93%. The health of children is worse than ever before.“At least 1 million children in Afghanistan will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore remarked.
Irrespective of what they claim, Taliban has often proved their insensitivity towards the environment. In 2017, tribal leaders accused the Taliban of unlawful logging. Even last year, farmers claimed that the Taliban planted mines in pomegranate orchards during an attack against Afghan security forces. Their leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, proudly urged his “Mujahideen and beloved countrymen” to plant trees every year. However, it’s a shame they couldn’t stand their own words and failed to follow through on the other end of the agreement, namely, protecting the existing trees. The rate of deforestation has increased due to many reasons. Between 2001 and 2020, Afghanistan lost 1.85 million hectares of forest. Illegal animal hunting and wood trafficking have also risen. To support their activities, the Taliban turned to the opium trade and illegal mineral exports. The environment-friendly initiatives have faded into the background now.
Taliban governance has the potential to devastate the global environment, as it has done in Afghanistan. The state’s environmentalists are terrified and fleeing the nation. People on the inside are in danger of losing their lives, and it is up to us, the safe and sound, to help the entire state. It’s paradoxical because if our environment isn’t safe, we won’t be able to stay safe for much longer. We can save the country and its people from impending devastation by acknowledging, sharing, and reacting. Afghanistan has been through several conflicts, and its people have endured a great deal of pain. Another climate disaster would be the last straw.