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UNICEF Photo: A young Afghan girl in Mangala village of Mohammad Raqi district in Kapisa province. © UNICEF Afghanistan/2013 A young Afghan girl in Mangala village of Mohammad Raqi district in Kapisa province.


Updated January 2014

In 2014, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition are admitted for treatment


women and children access essential maternal, newborn and child health services


emergency-affected persons have access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene

2014 Requirements: US$36,486,558

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Total affected population: 11 million
Total affected children (under 18): 6 million

Total people to be reached in 2014: 2.2 million
Total children to be reached in 2014: 1.2 million

2014 will be a crucial year for the continued stability of Afghanistan. The presidential elections and the withdrawal of international combat forces from the country will most likely have significant economic and security implications for development, including increased unemployment, slowed economic growth and difficulties sustaining livelihoods. These challenges, combined with the impact of the national transition process, will affect the delivery of UNICEF’s programmes in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan and Pakistan Country Offices and the Regional Office for South Asia have initiated a process of contingency planning and preparedness for response for two possible scenarios in Afghanistan: (1) continued deterioration of access to basic services and (2) the worst case scenario of increased displacement. Both scenarios will impact those vulnerable communities that have already experienced persistent armed conflict and recurrent natural disaster.1 More than one million displaced children do not have access to schools in Afghanistan.2 During the first half of 2013, it is believed 760 children were killed or maimed. The taskforce monitoring grave violations against children in armed conflict reported attacks against schools and health facilities, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, sexual violence and recruitment during 2013, a year which saw a 30 per cent increase in the number of attacks on children.3 The number of people internally displaced each year rose from 80,000 in 2011 to 113,000 in 2013.4 While the conflict is causing widespread disruption to health services,5 2.5 million people are targeted for emergency health care services in 2014.6 Given the inadequate and late rainfall, Afghanistan is expected to face a shortage of safe drinking water in the summer due to ground water depletion in certain provinces. Ground water depletion will cause a lower ground water table, deterioration of existing water quality, drying of surface water, and a large number of non-functional water points, with attendant risks of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. A total of 2.4 million people were identified as being in need of water, sanitation and hygiene WASH services in 2014.7

Humanitarian strategy

2014 programme targets


  • 98,900 children aged 6 to 59 months affected by SAM who are admitted for treatment
  • 706,996 children 6 to 23 months in the affected areas that receive multiple micronutrient supplementation


  • 195,000 women and children have access to essential maternal, newborn and child health services
  • 14,000 pregnant women received key health message


  • 100,000 internally displaced persons and host communities provided with safe water, sanitation and hygiene as per agreed standards
  • 300,000 emergency-affected persons with access to safe drinking water and sanitation and hygiene and sanitation interventions

Child protection

  • 600 children with acute needs assisted to connect with protective environment
  • Over 1,700 grave child rights violations reported and verified by monitoring and reporting mechanism


  • 50,000 school-aged children including adolescents accessing quality education

UNICEF’s education in emergencies programme, which is integrated into the education sector plan, will strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Education to plan, implement and coordinate education in emergencies activities. In child protection, UNICEF will continue to support the identification of separated and unaccompanied children, the provision of interim care, family tracing and reunification, and the establishment of child-friendly areas for children. In partnership with the Child Protection Action Network, UNICEF will provide support for survivors of gender-based violence, psychosocial support for boys and girls, and will facilitate the reintegration of children associated with armed forces and groups. As cluster lead for nutrition, UNICEF will continue to provide leadership, coordinate partners and support the development of policy and strategy. The nutrition cluster will discourage the use of breast milk substitutes and support the integration of infant and young child feeding in emergencies into a national strategy. The nutrition programme will focus on treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and prevention of undernutrition among children under 5, pregnant women and lactating women. Cluster member capacity development and nutrition assessments will continue. The transfer of the leadership of the WASH cluster to the Water and Sanitation Group, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, is currently under discussion. In the interim, UNICEF is focusing on strengthening the capacity of this Ministry, as well as the Ministry of Public Health and other partners, to plan, implement and monitor WASH activities. UNICEF will support the health cluster through the provision of medicines, medical supplies and kits and the facilitation of community awareness. To enable surge capacity for immediate response and to promote resilience within targeted communities, UNICEF and counterparts will strengthen the capacity of community health workers in the community integrated management of childhood illnesses and emergency triage assessment and treatment.

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$24,301,159 for 2013, and as of the end of October 2013, a total of US$22,051,171 or 91 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. In 2013, UNICEF and partner response focused on providing humanitarian support to 2.6 million people (93 per cent of the planned target). In WASH, adequate preparedness and training for partners on water treatment in emergencies enabled prompt and adequate response to seasonal floods and earthquake. Nutrition interventions were expanded to cover nine conflict-affected provinces and a national nutrition survey was conducted. Concerted efforts to prevent grave violations against children resulted in the refusal of 153 potential child recruits by the Afghan National Security Forces, and the establishment of 55 child-friendly spaces in displaced communities in three provinces. Advocacy and sensitization campaigns were conducted at national and sub-national levels, which led to the reopening of schools that had been closed for fear of the children’s safety. The process of transitioning the education cluster to the sector took longer than expected, and required that UNICEF first focus on strengthening the Government’s capacity. Outreach services were provided in response to the emergency health needs of children, pregnant women and lactating women. UNICEF supported awareness campaigns through the integrated basic package of health care service providers. Support to local health service providers shifted emergency response to the community level and led to lower UNICEF results against planned targets. The 2012 massive measles mortality reduction campaign resulted in a huge reduction in measles cases in 2013. Implementation challenges included poor funding for child protection, education and health, which received 20 per cent, 24 per cent and 35 per cent of the appeal targets respectively; delayed delivery of supplies due to limited local capacity for emergency procurement, difficult transportation and the lengthy process of tax exemptions for off-shore supplies; inadequate capacity of partners from non-governmental organizations, particularly in nutrition and child protection; and the hesitance of some non-governmental organizations to work in insecure provinces. Overall, the pace and efficiency of response to emergencies improved due to robust inter-agency contingency planning and preparedness measures, and improved capacity and stewardship by the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority.

Results are as of 31 October 2013 unless noted.  Nutrition results are as of end of September 2013.
* The 1,781,820 includes health education sessions, infant and young child feeding sessions at facility level and Family Health Action Groups at the community level, reported from 24 provinces
** The 260,000 people includes 52,000 women and 48,000 men, 79,000 girls and 81,000 boys;
*** The 122,000 people includes 20,000 women, 22,000 men, 39,000 girls and 41,000 boys;
*** The 63,000 includes 21,000 women, 23,000 men, 9,300 girls and 9,700 boys.

UNICEF funding requirements for 2013

UNICEF is requesting US$36,486,558 within the framework of the Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Action Plan to meet the humanitarian needs of children and women in 2014. This funding will be vital to supporting the national response to Afghanistan’s continuing nutrition crisis, to supporting critical WASH services and to providing people displaced and affected by the prolonged conflict with basic health and emergency education. Underfunding will leave millions of children, women and other vulnerable people without safe drinking water and life-saving health and nutrition services, will deny thousands of children the opportunity to attend school and will continue to expose these children to a hostile environment devoid of protection services.

1 Contingency planning costing is almost complete and can be shared upon request. 
2 United Nations, ‘Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Action Plan 2013 Mid-year Review’, 2013. 
3 United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘MRM database report’, 2013. (Unpublished)
4 United Nations, ‘Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Action Plan 2014 Humanitarian Needs Overview’ (final draft).
5 Ibid.
6 United Nations, ‘Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Action Plan 2014’ (draft).
7 Ibid.