Heavy rains in Afghanistan after 18-month drought
ISLAMABAD, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Drought-hit areas of Afghanistan received heavy rain on Tuesday, breaking a long dry spell and raising the hopes of farmers ahead of wheat planting due this month.
The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported that the districts included Kandahar, spiritual headquarters of the ruling Taleban movement, and adjoining areas received their first rain in 18 months.
It said farmers were ecstatic because the heavy rains -- which cannot be measured because there is no meteorological office in the war-torn country -- would leave good moisture in the ground for wheat cultivation.
An official of the Met office in neighbouring Pakistan told Reuters that moisture-laden clouds were moving west to east from the Mediterranean over Iran, through Afghanistan to Pakistan.
"It is expected to reach us tonight or tomorrow (Wednesday) morning," said Ghulam Qadir, at the weather forecast office in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
The AIP said the western Afghan province of Herat, the northwestern province of Faryab, the southwestern province of Nimroz, the eastern city of Jalalabad, and the northeastern province of Kunar had reported heavy rains on Monday after a dry-spell of several months.
But it said this rain alone would not be sufficient to break the drought, the worst in 30 years, which has increased suffering in a country already devastated by 20 years of war. Qadir said he did not expect rain to continue in Afghanistan for more than a day or two.
According to the World Food Programme the drought has caused a shortage of 2.3 million tonnes of cereals in Afghanistan this year.
Pakistan's Met office said rain fell in several border areas of Pakistan and snow was expected in the north soon.
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