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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Afghan drought hits nomads

By Kate Clarke in Ghazni

Nomads in Afghanistan are desperately trying to survive one of the severest droughts in decades.

Hundreds of thousands of people have travelled north from the drought-ridden winter grazing areas around the southern city of Kandahar.

But the nomads summer pastures have also failed, and their flocks are being wiped out.

The livestock market in Ghazni seems to be flourishing but it is busy only because Afghan nomads are desperately selling their sheep and goats.

If they work all day, they can earn enough to buy four or five pieces of bread

Livestock prices are collapsing - animals which would have sold for $30 last year are now selling for five or six, and the price is continuing to fall.

People are selling their animals to buy flour - that is if they have any livestock left.

I met families who had lost almost all their stock.

One man said he had 200 sheep and goats before the winter but now he has only two animals left alive.

Men are trying to find work as labourers in Ghazni town but this town hardly has enough work for its own people, let alone this huge influx of nomads.
woman
Some have lost everything
Women are spinning wool. If they work all day, they can earn enough to buy four or five pieces of bread, not enough to feed themselves or their children.

In this deeply religious country, people are asking why God has sent a drought to Afghanistan.

It is a punishment for the civil war, said one man - it is no longer a jihad, a just war; now, brother is fighting brother.

Whatever the reason for the drought, for many Afghans, it will be one burden too many.

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