SOUTH ASIA Afghanistan
Children walk on a street patrolled by military forces in Garmsir Bazaar, in Helmand Province. A decades-long conflict continues to undermine children’s development; 525,000 children under 5 are at risk for severe acute malnutrition.
Update: CAP Mid-Year Review
Children and Women in Crisis
Violence in Afghanistan continues to inflict severe suffering and is undermining efforts to provide a protective and secure environment for children. A total of 147,661 people were displaced between January and August 2011, bringing the cumulative number of the conflict-related displaced population to 473,000 (73,452 families).1 Recruitment and use of children in armed conflict emerged as an increasing concern. Children represented at least 81 per cent of mine/explosive remnants of war casualties in the country.
Up to 3 million Afghans are severely affected by an unprecedented drought, the eighth in 11 years. There is a significant shortage of safe drinking water, deteriorating sanitation, and an increase in waterborne or water-shortage disease outbreaks. Some 525,000 children under 5 are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, and trends registered in the second half of 2011 show that roughly 60,000 children nationwide will need nutrition therapeutic care in 2012.2 Measles outbreaks are common, with 107 small-scale outbreaks reported and 1,606 measles cases captured by active surveillance systems from 107 districts as of August 2011.3 Afghanistan is one of four polio-endemic countries in the world. The harsh winter conditions, which are often accompanied by flooding, disrupt education for children, particularly in schools that are not adequately designed for the conditions.
Meeting Urgent Needs in 2012
UNICEF is lead of the nutrition and WASH clusters and the child protection sub-cluster in Afghanistan, as well as co-lead for education. Together with the Government of Afghanistan, other UN agencies and NGOs, UNICEF will seek to meet the basic humanitarian needs of an estimated 2.4 million vulnerable people. Efforts will include:
- Approximately 48,000 severely malnourished children and 91,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women living in emergency-affected areas will benefit from community-based nutrition care, as well as counseling on infant and young child feeding and supplementary feeding. In order to address micronutrient deficiencies for more than 210,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women, UNICEF will promote complementary feeding and protection from use of unsolicited infant formula and other inappropriate baby foods.
- More than 345,000 children under 5 and 69,000 pregnant women from drought- and conflict-affected areas will benefit from immunization and basic maternal, newborn and child health care.
- Sustainable safe drinking-water sources, sanitation facilities and hygiene services will be provided to 800,000 internally displaced persons (480,000 of them children). This population of displaced persons includes 100,000 refugee returnees mainly from Iran and Pakistan, 200,000 persons displaced due to conflict and other disasters and 400,000 people affected by natural hazards. Services will include repair of 2,000 non functional water points and systems and construction of 600 community water systems. Provision of WASH facilities in 150 schools will benefit 100,000 students (about 50 per cent girls and female teachers). UNICEF will also construct 30 strategic water points, provide WASH emergency supplies and train hygiene educators, mechanics and pump caretakers on the operation, maintenance and management of WASH systems.
- Emergency education will be provided to 580,000 students, focusing on girls, and 800 teachers affected by conflict and natural hazards through provision of safe, secure child-friendly learning environments and relief supplies of emergency teaching and learning materials. In addition, some 450,000 students and teachers will be able to continue schooling during the harsh winter season.
- Psychosocial support, structured play and recreational activities, along with mine-risk education, will be provided to at least 4,000 people, including 3,000 children, who are at risk of violence, abuse and neglect.
Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011
As of end October 2011, UNICEF had received US$5,642,548 of the US$22,698,000 requested for its humanitarian work. With only one fourth of the funding needs received, UNICEF was able to achieve results in the following areas: Some 149,000 children under 5 and 28,406 pregnant or breastfeeding women received life-saving basic maternal and child health and nutrition services. An additional 245,000 children 6–59 months old and 246,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women received multiple micronutrients and folic acid. More than 12,000 children 9–59 months old (99 per cent of the programmatic goal) were immunized against measles.
A total of 20,000 family kits were distributed to internally displaced families. Additionally, 10,000 sweaters for children under 2 were distributed and some 14,000 blankets were pre-positioned for thermal protection.
At least 200,000 displaced and drought-affected people gained access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Nearly 4,000 community-based classes were established, providing education to 125,000 children. Some 400 schools, which had been closed due to insecurity, were reopened with a community-based protection initiative. A total of 1,050 cases of violations dealing with children in conflict with the law, family separation, sexual abuse and child trafficking were identified, followed up with and referred to support services.
Funding Requirements for 2012
In line with the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) requirements, UNICEF is requesting US$31,661,000 for its emergency activities in Afghanistan. Underfunding will leave millions of Afghans without safe drinking water and life-saving health and nutrition services, as well as deny thousands of children the opportunity to attend school and access to protection services. Full funding will ensure that UNICEF and partners can strengthen emergency preparedness and response at national and community levels.
1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Monthly Humanitarian Update’, OCHA Afghanistan, Kabul, August 2011, p. 1.
2 United States Agency for International Development and iMMAP, 'Afghanistan: Emergency Food Security Assessment', USAID and iMMAP, Washington, D.C., 27 July 2011.
3 Measles/Rubella Case Finding Indicators in Afghanistan between 1 January 2011–20 August 2011, 6 September 2011 and Ministry of Public Health, ‘Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report 44 (5th Yr)’, Afghanistan, 6 November 2011.