By Ali Hakimi
Afghanistan’s rural communities are not the most accessible places in the world, particularly when a disaster strikes. It is not just the quality of the roads (or tracks), or the lack of up-to-date maps, it is also the security situation. We flew to Mazar-e-Sharif from Kabul after the ICRC had finally given us the green light and then on to Sari-Pul Province by IFRC vehicle. We drove south-west and arrived in Sari-Pul city almost four hours later.
When we reached our destination, we met the Afghan Red Crescent branch president and his team. He briefed us about the flood situation, damages and urgent needs. In the afternoon we saw several affected houses. Although some people had already started to fix their homes, passing along the narrow village roads and visiting houses one by one gave me a feeling that we, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, need to do more. I visited a few gardens where the fruit trees had been destroyed and visited farmlands that had been washed away. While walking through the debris we were confronted by two women wearing Burqa. One of them started to tell us what had happened. Her child had died in the flood.
“I need your assistance I have lost almost everything – even my small child,” she said in tears.
We left the first village at 5pm – security again – and we had no choice but return back to base.
The following morning we continued visiting some other affected houses at other locations on the riverside. I saw a man working hard to fix his house. His face was tired but did not show any desperation. He was preparing the mud to rebuild the destroyed wall. In Afghanistan, villagers mainly use mud to build their houses – mud that is easily washed away.
I visited a newly constructed mosque but it too was damaged. There was mud inside and the floor was wet. The villagers had managed to take out some of carpets and volumes of the Quran – but some were damaged beyond repair.