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ASIA-PACIFIC Afghanistan

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0999/Noorani

A girl attends class in a tent at a girls’ primary school in the north-western city of Herat. Two decades of war have destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Conflict and poverty continue to prevent children, especially girls, from attending school.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

One third of Afghanistan’s population is considered food insecure due to years of ongoing conflict, as well as increased fighting between government forces and rebel groups, floods in the Western and Northern provinces, and an earthquake in the Eastern province in 2009.  The effects of the food, fuel and financial crises are also putting an estimated 1.2 million children under five and 550,000 pregnant and lactating women across the country at high risk of household insecurity, malnutrition, infectious diseases and livelihood vulnerability. Their situation is further exacerbated because of little or no access to basic health care, safe water or education or child protection services. 

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

In 2010, UNICEF will work with the Government of Afghanistan, United Nations agencies, NGOs and communities to respond to the humanitarian needs of an estimated 2 million people, particularly women and children affected and/or displaced by armed conflict and disasters.  As lead or co-lead of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Nutrition and Education Clusters, and the Child Protection Sub-Cluster, UNICEF will focus on providing access to essential health and nutrition care, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, safe learning environments and stronger psychosocial support and protection networks for children.  Emergency preparedness will be fully addressed within planning, and support for lasting recovery woven into all sectors of humanitarian response. Following are the expected results of UNICEF emergency interventions:

Health: At least 175,000 children (aged 6–59 months) and 90,000 pregnant and lactating women affected by conflict and disasters will be able to access improved health services, achieved through the strengthening of capacity at health facilities. The provision of essential drugs and insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention will be among the main benefits.

Nutrition: The nutritional status of over 175,000 children between 6 and 59 months and 90,000 pregnant and lactating mothers will improve as a result of the provision of de-worming tablets, micronutrient supplementation and therapeutic feeding. UNICEF will also undertake rapid nutrition assessments and support the promotion of improved infant and young child feeding practices.  Awareness will be raised among the public about detection and prevention of diseases.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): An estimated 1 million conflict- or disaster-affected people will have access to reliable and sufficient safe drinking water through the construction of water points, water tankering and distribution of water purification materials. UNICEF will also help prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases through providing sanitation facilities and hygiene education.

Education: The UNICEF-led Education Cluster will work with communities to re-open schools closed due to the conflict.  Approximately 100,000 children and out-of-school youth in all provinces in Afghanistan will be able to return to school through the reconstruction of school buildings destroyed by the conflict, the development of teaching and learning materials and sensitization of teachers to the need for psychosocial interventions.

Child Protection: UNICEF will enable the 28 provincial Child Protection Action Networks to expand their capacity to monitor and respond to the needs of children engaged in armed conflict or who have been unlawfully detained.  In close collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization on Migration, the Red Cross and NGO child protection networks, UNICEF will strengthen existing referral systems for unaccompanied minors and separated children working and/or living in the border areas of Herat, Nangarhar and Nimroz provinces.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Health 5,419,050
Nutrition 3,980,950
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) 9,951,000
Education 7,500,000
Child Protection 1,070,000
Total 27,921,000