Farhad Azima: Girls Education is the Key to Afghan Climate Change

Farhad Azima and other global leaders view girl’s education as the solution to climate change issues in Afghanistan.

Bad environmental trends often affect the poor more than their rich peers. Such is the case of the global north and south when it comes to climate change, said Farhad Azima. Take, for example, the growing desert in Africa. (Climatica) Small islands in the Pacific may completely disappear. (Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change) Other poor nations face similar issues.

“Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors in many poor countries,” says the World Bank in a recent report. “Unfortunately, it is also one of the most sensitive to climate change.” The worst outcomes center on pests, epidemics, and sea level rise. (WB)

Afghan men and women have felt the effects. In 2015 and 2016, the country did not have any snow. Vitally, snow irrigates the fields and keeps the system moving. Without it, crops suffered from fungus and mold. The rocky land does not keep water well. Most years see a heavy snow melt in the spring.

Farmers like Hafizullah, who harvests grapes, saw an 85% drop in income. This was not enough to feed his large family.

Luckily, his daughters had attended high school and had found work. Together, they work as teachers as the Zabuli Education Center.

What if they were not working? “I can’t imagine it,” Hafizuallah said.

Farhad Azima
Smiling girls at the Zabuli Education Center read and learn. Via Borgen Magazine

Larger Trends

Climate change is changing Afghanistan. Notably, the country was seen as among the most exposed in the 2012 Global Adaptation Index. (ND-GAIN  Index)

80% of the country tends farms or raises cattle. They rely on annual rain to sustain their lives. Sadly, the country had droughts or floods in the past 11 years. About 10% of the countries land is still farmable. (The National)

Importantly, droughts will become more prevalent. By 2030, they will be the norm. Slowly, good areas of land will turn to desert. (United Nations Development Program)

As the amount of good land shrinks, disputes will become more common. In turn, this insecurity may fuel the Taliban and other bad factions. Displaced farmers may join the Taliban.

Farhad Azima sees the need for girl’s education here. Vitally, research has shown more educated people will lead to more innovation. (CEPR’s Policy Center) Through innovation, the country can shift away from farming to a more modern economy.

“Girl’s education fuels growth in a number of key areas.” Farhad Azima said in an interview on Tuesday. “We sow the seeds we plant now.” They are fighting a cultural, as well as economic, battle.

Women have already started doing their part. Tech companies like Momtaz host were started by women in the years after the US invasion. (Red Herring)

Farhad Azima
Many Afghan start-ups have sleek, modern offices in the Country. Via Red Herring

American University of Afghanistan Leading the Charge

One of the universities that have led the charge for women’s education is American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. They have not been without their share of challenges. In 2016, they experienced a mass shooting that closed the school for several months. In April 2017, they reopened. (Brookings)

Out of 77 new students, 44 percent are women. They will learn business, law, science and technology.

Through this, they diversify the Afghan economy. They will also go out and shape the culture in a more modern image. As the country becomes drier, this will be vital.

It will have many positive effects. Educated women have fewer children, marry later and are more independent. This will help fuel the response to global climate change.

Farhad Azima continued: Research shows that education reduces death during disasters. In fact, education may be more powerful than economic growth in this. Vitally, experts say that education will help countries adapt to more extreme weather.

It does so by helping people understand the world around them. They can process risk easier, and can provide better ideas for their local community. It empowers people to fight the effects of climate change. (Carbon Brief) It also can mitigate cultural effects.

Farhad Azima
Global warming fuels ethnic strife, which has displaced many Afghans. Via The National
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