ActionAid has provided food and blankets for 900 families affected by extreme cold weather and heavy snow in Jawzjan province in Afghanistan.
The international development charity has applied to the European Commission for funding to scale up its relief work, and plans to reach a total of 28,000 people in 179 villages in the Darzab, Questhpa, Khamiyab, Murdian, and Khawaja Do Koh districts of Jawzjan province in northern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's harshest winter in 25 years has killed more than 750 people and thousands of head of livestock. Most of the reported deaths have been in the country's western region.
But when ActionAid assessment teams visited five of the northern province's nine districts they found that around 4,350 local families had been affected by the heavy snowfall and 34 people, most of them children, had died. An estimated 11,140 livestock had been lost. War widows and poor families have suffered badly.
The 900 families given food and blankets by ActionAid include 200 households headed by women and 160 where the head of the household is disabled.
Qizlarbegi, an Uzbek war widow whose 20 year old son is also missing, said: "My daughter and I have nothing to eat; so we begged a loaf of bread from our neighbours last night."
With tears in her eyes, she dared to break the cultural tradition of staying in hiding as a woman and was standing among the predominantly male crowd gathered to get assistance from the ActionAid team.
She received 50 kilograms of wheat flour, 10 kilograms of pulses, 5 litres of edible oil and a blanket. ActionAid Afghanistan spokesperson Mudasser Hussain Siddiqui said aid is urgently needed.
"The Afghan people are used to hardship and are able to cope with extremes that many others would find almost impossible. But this weather is exceptional in its severity and people's ability to cope is being cruelly tested."
ActionAid has sought funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Office for further relief work in Jawzjan province.
The European Commission is currently supporting a disaster preparedness project of ActionAid through its DIPECHO initiative in Shurtepah district, Balkhprovince, Afghanistan.