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This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

In 2005, Afghanistan’s Parliament convened for the first time in 30 years—with 68 women among the 249 members of the lower house. Security remains tenuous: Humanitarian organizations have had to use armed guards in some parts of the country, and violence against girls and women remains alarmingly common. Creating a protective environment for women and children is a high priority on both national and local levels. More than half of Afghanis are under 18, making efforts on behalf of children vital to the country’s future.

Issues facing children in Afghanistan

  • Infant, under-five, and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan are among the world’s highest. Twenty five per cent of children die before reaching their fifth birthday. Fifty women die each day from pregnancy-related complications.
  • More than half of all children are stunted.
  • Because immunization coverage is still very low, preventable diseases kill thousands of children annually. Malaria (which afflicts approximately 2 million people per year), measles, and respiratory infections are the leading causes of childhood death.
  • The great majority of Afghanistan’s population lacks access to safe water or sanitation. Diarrhoeal diseases and tuberculosis are chronic threats to public health.
  • Two million children of primary school age do not attend classes. Literacy rates are low.
  • The gender gap in education is narrowing, but girls still lag far behind boys in school enrolment.
  • Landmines and unexploded ordnance pose a serious risk to children’s safety.
Activities and results for children
  • UNICEF and its partners have immunized 5 million children against polio and delivered millions of vitamin A supplements. Polio cases dropped from 27 in 2004 to only five in 2005. New health facilities are making immunizations more routine.
  • Five new salt iodization plants are helping to reduce iodine deficiency, while therapeutic feeding programmes in 20 hospitals have been created to combat malnutrition.
  • Half a million Afghanis have gained access to safe water and sanitary latrines. A million people benefited from education on hand-washing and hygienic water use.
  • More than 500,000 girls enrolled in school for the first time in 2005. 
  • UNICEF and its partners have trained 30,000 teachers and supplied educational materials for 4.87 million students. In areas with no schoolhouses, tents, teacher training, and learning materials have been provided to offer informal learning opportunities for 250,000 children.
  • Mine-risk education programmes have reached nearly a million people, reducing landmine-related accidents by 10 per cent.
  • UNICEF and its partners provided emergency relief to 290,000 people affected by floods, drought, extreme cold weather, or acute respiratory infections.
  • Nearly 3,500 former child soldiers have been reintegrated into family settings.
  • More than 8,000 children received vocational training. UNICEF mobilized 670 people to prevent child trafficking.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*

Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*

Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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