Kabul – During the coronavirus crisis, nomads in Afghanistan that seemed to be economically independent face a number of difficult problems.
According to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a dilemma for Afghan nomads known as Kuchis.
They are forced to choose between “getting sick or going hungry” because they make a living by herding sheep, goats, and camels. Restrictions on movement related to the coronavirus crisis have affected their lifestyle.
“The closure of markets and shops due to the imposed lockdown have heavily impacted the Kuchi community,” said Candra Samekto, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Afghanistan in a report on Saturday.
“Kuchis cannot not sell their livestock and dairy products.”
Food prices have spiked as well, which forced the nomads to sell their belongings at a lower price.
The Kuchis have led a nomadic life for centuries, but decades of conflict, drought and the degradation of grazing areas have caused their livelihoods to deteriorate.
The Kuchis representative in parliament, Habib-ul-Rahman Afghan, says that around five million Kuchis live in Afghanistan.
“No attention has been paid to Kuchis in relation to the coronavirus,” Afghan told dpa in a comment critical of the government.
The country’s constitution grants Kuchis ten permanent seats in parliament, but the UN reports that they are still among the poorest and most marginalized groups in the country with no access to information, TVs, or even power.
“They live in remote areas where digital infrastructure is weak, and the vast majority of them are illiterate,” Sametko said.