Press Release

UN Reports Staggering US$ 402.9 Million in Recovery Needs Following Last Year’s Earthquakes in Herat, Afghanistan

21 February 2024

UNDP, World Bank, EU, and ADB release findings in Post-Disaster Needs Assessment for Herat Province

Kabul, 21 February 2024: The United Nations – together with the World Bank, the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank - has released a comprehensive Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report for Afghanistan's Herat Province, hit by devastating earthquakes in October 2023. The report highlights the scale of the disaster: direct physical damage up to US$ 217 million and losses reaching US$ 78.9 million. The assessment underscores an urgent need for US$ 402.9 million to support the critical recovery and reconstruction efforts in the province. 

Housing, the most severely affected sector, represents 41 percent (US$ 164.4 million) of the total recovery needs. The earthquakes damaged 49,578 houses, with 13,516 being completely destroyed. Education is second most impacted sector, with 180,000 students and 4,390 teachers currently facing disruptions. The agriculture sector, accounting for the majority of jobs and income in the affected areas, has suffered considerable setbacks.  

The series of earthquakes on October 7, 11, and 15 killed over 1,500 people and injured more than 2,600 people. The assessment, with UNDP as the technical lead, provides a comprehensive analysis of the earthquakes' devastating effects in Herat. The assessment spans nine districts with roughly 2.2 million people. It reveals that over 275,000 individuals were affected. Among these are 17,358 pregnant women, 17,146 infants, 3,976 people with severe disabilities, 3,207 elderly families, 6,806 women-led households, 3,176 individuals with chronic illnesses, and 147,000 children under 18. Herat, Injil, and Zindajan districts were the hardest hit, with rural and vulnerable communities suffering the most. 

Besides assessing damage, losses, and recovery and reconstruction needs, the assessment evaluates broader macro-economic and human impacts and proposes principles for a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction framework. It cautions about persistent widespread poverty, slow economic recovery, job scarcity, banking sector instability, adverse impact on mental health and wellbeing, and climate vulnerability, exacerbating Afghanistan's ongoing economic challenges.  

The earthquakes in Herat have hit vulnerable communities with limited resilience to handle multiple concurrent shocks. The province has been one of those hosting the largest numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan. The displacement due to conflict and drought has had severe impacts on access to services, land, and shelter, and has resulted in unhealthy coping mechanisms. The disaster has further exacerbated insufficient levels of service delivery that predate the earthquakes.  

The earthquakes have exacerbated gender-based challenges, with women-owned businesses heavily impacted – approximately 60-70% affected and only 10% resuming operations. This has further eroded the situation for women and girls, who are already subjected to severe restrictions, including exclusion from most areas of daily and public life, including access to work and education. 

The report highlights significant gaps in disaster preparedness and response in Herat, particularly in rural areas, with non-earthquake-resistant vernacular housing. The disproportionate impact on women (58% casualties) underscores the necessity for gender-responsive initiatives and tailored support for diverse population segments.


Way forward 

The PDNA emphasizes the critical need to transition from immediate humanitarian aid to long-term recovery. Recovery strategies should prioritize building community resilience, service restoration, earthquake-safe housing, livelihoods options, social protection, and access to basic servicesespecially for the most affected families. The PDNA supports principles of building back better, emphasising women's empowerment and reducing disaster risks and enhancing climate resilience.  

"As the United Nations and partners, we stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in these challenging times. The findings of the PDNA highlight the profound impacts of the earthquakes on the Herat region. We are committed to not only addressing the immediate needs but ensuring a sustainable and resilient recovery for those affected by the earthquakes. This tragedy presents an opportunity to rebuild stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient communities. The PDNA provides a blueprint for recovery and reconstruction aimed at forging a better future for those most affected in Afghanistan," stated Indrika Ratwatte, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-​General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

This first-of-its-kind, multi-partner joint assessment since August 2021 showcases an international resolve to address the needs of disaster-affected communities and support their recovery. The assessment – launched in October 2023 – relied on field data, publicly available information, and remote sensing analytics.  

The PDNA partners hope that the assessment will help inform key partners on the needs associated with the disaster and encourage national and international response efforts to mobilize support for timely recovery. The Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank remain steadfast in their commitment to aiding the Afghan people and ensuring a resilient recovery, especially for the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls. 


For technical queries, please contact Luis Francisco Thais Santa Cruz at

For communications and media queries, please contact Munisa Rashid at 


Link to report:

Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA)

UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Labour Organization
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Mine Action Service
United Nations Office for Project Services
World Food Programme
World Health Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative