Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 318

Situation Report
Originally published
Afghanistan Support Group
The ASG was held in Stockholm on 21-22 June. Major donors, UN Agencies, ICRC and others attended. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi gave a briefing on the ongoing peace process. The conference took stock of the environment for assistance, common programming, funding, narcotics, refugee protection, and human rights.

At the end of the conference, Mr. Brahimi said that the international donors provided assurances that they would continue to fund aid programmes for the country. He also said representatives from Sweden, Japan and Canada would travel to Afghanistan to discuss international community concerns.

Forest Fire in Kunar Province

A forest fire erupted in Kunar Province on 12th June. The affected areas are the forests of Dar-e-Paich, Degal, and Shorak districts in Kunar. Afghanistan has requested emergency assistance from the Government of Pakistan.

Food Aid / Food Security

UNHCR is planning for the return of 1,500 families from Iran through the

Western province of Herat on 28th June for which WFP will be providing 50 kg of wheat per person. This pilot initiative is a prelude to the possible return of up to 3,000 people per week, going through Herat to various parts of the country. The repatriation process is expected to continue through 1999 and 2000.

The WFP food distribution to Panjao and Waras districts of Bamyan Province has concluded. In collaboration with OXFAM, WFP distributed some 2,000 tonnes of wheat.


Female social mobilisers visited about 80 women in Narang District in Kunar on the improvement of family and social health and the rights of children and women. Health educators also reached some 5,000 females and males in Herat, with hygiene and sanitation messages.

UNICEF and WHO in collaboration with MoPH and health NGOs successfully implemented the second round of National Immunization Days (NIDs) in all regions of Afghanistan.

The 1999 campaign marks the first time in eighteen months that immunisation against polio reached children in many parts of the northern region around Mazar-I-Sharif. In a major break-through in the central region, polio vaccines and funds for health workers and mobilisers were transported across the frontline and into the provinces of Parwan and Kapisa. Dedicated staff from ICRC, NGOs, UN agencies, civil societies and local authorities dispatched by truck. They were transported by donkeys to the other side. This is the first time in three years that some of the districts in these two provinces received the polio vaccine. This region reported many of the country's new annual cases of the disease.

With results still being tallied, UNICEF and WHO officials are optimistic that a higher percentage than ever before of children under five were reached with the oral polio vaccine in the 1999 anti-polio campaign.

The Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, CDAP, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, Ibn-I-Shina and relevant NGOs contributed to the campaign. The next round of NIDs will be held in October and November to help achieve the global goal of polio eradication by the end of 2000.

Disease Outbreaks
A joint MoPH, WHO and UNICEF mission visited Gulran District of Herat Province, scene of an outbreak of cirrhosis. The situation was found satisfactory, and patients have shown some improvement. Registered cases have reached 190 with 54 deaths.

In Kabul, Kandahar, Ghazni, Nimroz and Kunduz Provinces, so far 57 people have died from an outbreak of diarrhea. Cholera Task Forces are active in these areas, including officials from the MoPH in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF and NGOs. Stool samples have been collected for analysis to determine whether the outbreak is cholera. Confirmation is awaited.

Medical supplies and services
WHO provided 3.5 MT of hospital equipment and medicines to MoPH for distribution to provincial hospitals in the country. Medical supplies were also sent to Herat, Ghazni, Jalalabad, Paktika, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Balkh.

Health Training
UNICEF and WHO have conducted training on diarrhea case management in Kabul and another similar training course for doctors from Wardk, Logar and Kabul Provinces.

The Nangahar Provincial Health Director, members of Provincial Health Management Team (PHMT) from Laghman, and representative of AMI (NGO) met at UNICEF Jalalabad to discuss PHC demonstration programmes and the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI) / Emergency Obstetric Care (EOC).

The NGO Merlin has identified two midwives for its clinics in Anaradara and Lash-e-Juwain districts in Heart. Two rooms of the clinics will be upgraded for provision of basic emergency obstetric care. Community shura members were also oriented on Safe Motherhood Initiative projects and provided with communication materials.

WHO conducted a one-day training workshop on Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance, measles and tetanus in the Herat Regional Hospital. 30 male and female trainers attended the workshop.

Safe Water /Sanitation
A technical team for selection of standard handpump and borehole models, consisting of RRD, DACCAR, SCA, WHO and UNICEF finalised an appropriate model for dug well platforms. UNICEF is preparing a standardisation handbook for handpumps. Eight handpumps were installed on wells in Alinegar and Narang Districts of Laghman and Kunar Provinces. These will benefit some 2,400 people.

UNICEF provided bleaching powder to MoPH Herat, DACAAR and ARCS for chlorination of dugwells. In Guzara District of Herat Province, 9 handpumps were installed and 30 double pit latrines were constructed for 30 families.

UNICEF's current Water and Environmental Sanitation Programme (WES) is the largest provider of water and sanitation systems in rural areas. With the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development as the major counterpart, the WES programme aims, to construct or rehabilitate handpumps, dug wells, boreholes, latrines, piped water systems, and sanitation systems. Community participation is critical in the siting, construction and maintenance of the pumps and wells. The programme also delivers messages on hygiene.


To reintegrate disabled children into normal schools and enable them to read, write and speak, the Comprehensive Disabled Afghans' Programme completed a two-month capacity building training in sign language and Braille in Peshawar. 15 female and male CDAP field staff working with mentally handicapped children and those with sensory problems attended the course.

Reconstruction and Rehabilitation

UNCHS continued to support urban communities in Kabul, by assisting community -based education, income generation and shelter rehabilitation activities. As part of its ongoing sanitation programme, a number of female health educators have been involved in efforts to promote health education on environmental sanitation and hygiene in District 6. A number of female health educators will be involved in this project.

300 square metres of asphalt road in important locations, including hospitals, were repaired in Kabul.


In addition to ongoing livestock activities country wide, this week FAO Livestock distributed 45,000 doses of Anthrax vaccine to Herat Province Veterinary Field Units.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recently published a report on seed activities and food security through sustainable crop production in Afghanistan. The report highlights major activities: seed production of commercial cultivars for food crops through the private sectors and the national seed programme carried out between May 1998 and May 1999.

Despite in-country uncertainties, the project was able to produce and distribute nearly 10,100 tonnes of high yielding seeds. PEACE Initiative-selected areas received more than 750 tonnes of seeds (340% higher that the targeted amount). Copies of the publication are available in FAO Crops Offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For more information, please contact FAO Crops Afghanistan.

DACAAR has completed a project to introduce new agricultural technologies among 290 families in Mongor, Ghazni Province. The project conducted on-farm trials with farmers to identify improved agricultural practices, established contact seed growers for the production of quality seeds and introduced new crops varieties and improved water management.

Mine Action

In 1999, MAPA has completed the following :

  • Survey of 1,818,629 square metres of mined area, and 7,193,506 square metres of battle area.
  • Clearance of 2,274,896 square metres of mined area, and 6,244,432 square metres of battle area.
  • Briefing of 63,302 people on mine awareness.
  • Training of 43 new deminers, retraining of 253 current deminers.
MAPA employs 72 manual mine clearance teams; 16 mechanical mine clearance teams; 17 mine dog groups (mine clearance); 37 survey teams (mine contaminated areas); 10 battle area clearance teams (mines and or unexploded ordnance); 60 mine awareness trainers.

According to the Regional Mine Action Center (RMAC) one child was killed and another injured in two mine incidents last week in Kabul. In Qala-I-Hakimi village, Enjil district, Herat Province, one villager was killed and one was seriously injured by an anti-tank mine.


The Afghanistan 1999 opium poppy survey in the north (Badkhshan, Takhar, Kundoz, Balkhand Jozjan Provinces) has begun. Results from the rest of the country are currently under analysis. The final report of the annual survey will be ready for distribution by the first week of September 1999.

As part of the Shinwar Drug Control Action Plan in Nangahar Province, UNDCP is providing developmental assistance to the farmers and the community. The assistance is aimed at helping them to gradually eradicate opium poppy cultivation in their district.

In this program, a primary school has been completed that will be attended by both boys and girls. The community established a committee to supervise operation of the school and provide financial support to the school.

Also in Shinwar, UNDCP provided various kinds of assistance to the agricultural sector. Forty-eight women were trained in family health and livestock, two hundred farmers in wheat and vegetable practices, and twenty farmers in seed production. Animal vaccination also continued.

Calendar by AWN

The Afghan Women's Network in Islamabad has published a calendar for 1999-2000. It contains drawings and articles in English Pushtu and Dari selected among the work of refugee school children in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The calendar was published to commemorate One Day in Peace, 1 January 2000. For further information, please contact Gulalai Habib, at the UN Co-ordinator's Office for Afghanistan.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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