Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in South and Central Asia, situated between the latitudes of 29° to 37° N. It encompasses an area of 647,000 square kilometers that are characterized by high mountains and deep valleys. Around 63% of the country is mountainous while the southwestern part of the country is mostly flatlands where the Helmand Rivers’ drainage basin lies. The country is neighbored in the south and east by Pakistan; in the west by Iran; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and by the People’s Republic of China in the far northeast. It has a semi-arid to arid climate that is classified within the Desert and/or Desert Steppe climate classification scheme. 85% of the 30.55 million inhabitants rely directly or indirectly on agriculture as their main livelihood, which constitutes 28% of GDP. Significant growth in GDP has been evident since 2002, and averaging in the double digits, though most recently, growth fell substantially to 3.6% in 2013 from 14.4% in 2012. The service sector contributes the largest share to GDP at 28%, while industry contributes around 20%, but is expected to grow in the future due to development within the mining industry. Agriculture presents room for continued growth and recovery for Afghanistan, but also, since the majority of agriculture is rainfed, it presents instability to GDP and causes the majority of Afghans to be vulnerable to climate shocks. Afghanistan ranks 169 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2014, listed in the lowest human development category. 36% of Afghans live below the poverty line, the country has one of the lowest life expectancies at birth (60 years) in Asia, 46% of the population has access to safe drinking water, and the percentage of the population with electricity is around 30%, which is among the lowest in the world. However, there has been progress in human development indicators since 2002, with school enrollment increasing from 1 million to 8.6 million. Girls’ school enrollment has also increased substantially from 191,000 to more than 3.6 million. Further, around 85% of Afghans now live in areas with access to basic health services and infant and under-5 child mortality have decreased. Climate change poses a threat to Afghanistan’s natural resources, of which the majority of Afghans depend for their livelihoods. Therefore the country has a need to promote and strengthen adaptation strategies that aim at improving water management and use efficiency; improved agricultural practices and research; rangeland management; development of a disaster management strategy; development and research into climate and early warning systems; improved food security; and diversification of livelihoods.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities