Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 340

Pledges and Contributions
The Government of Japan has pledged USD 1.3 million for the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan, the largest mine action programme in the world. These funds will enable MAPA to continue operating until the end of the year. Part of these funds will be used to purchase a commer-cial mine detection system that will be used for clearing residential areas and irrigation canals. Initially tested in Cambodia and being used for the first time in Afghanistan, the machine will speed up clearance, reduce the risk to de-mining staff, and increase the cost effectiveness of the Mine Action Programme.

Since 1992, the Government of Ja-pan has contributed USD 15 million to the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan.

Reopening of Afghan-Iran border

In addition to the border opening with Iran at Islam Qala in Herat, the Iranian border at Milak (Zaranj) is also open.


In collaboration with MSF and ICRC, WHO discussed Afghan health priorities and issues for 2000 at a recent meeting of the Afghan Programming Board. Regional and country-wide shortages of health workers and facilities were cited as contributing to excess morbidity and mortality in Afghanistan, especially the high maternal mortality rate, childhood deaths from diar-rhoea, measles and pneumonia, and young adult deaths due to tuberculosis. WHO ex-plained its four main priorities--safe moth-erhood, immunisation, control of commu-nicable diseases and epidemic response, and war-related injuries and disability.


WHO in collaboration with MoPH, UNI-CEF and health NGOs conducted meetings in all zones to prepare for the start of the 2nd round of National Immunisation Days (NIDs), 27-29 Nov 1999. EPI supplies have been transported to all regions in the coun-try. All children four years old are targeted even if they have been immunised previ-ously.


In collaboration of MoPH, UNICEF, SCA, AMI and IBNSINA, WHO has successfully completed a four-day training workshop on the implementation of the new Health Information System (HIS) in Puli Alam dis-trict of Logar province. Thirty-one male doctors, nurses, and technicians from nineteen health facilities in Logar province par-ticipated. WHO provided the participants with collecting/reporting materials, patient register books, tally sheets, and monthly reporting and analysis forms. A similar workshop will be conducted for female doctors/nurses in Logar province this week.

In Kabul, WHO conducted a four-day workshop on epidemic surveillance and preparedness for doctors, nurses, and tech-nicians at the library hall of MoPH in Ka-bul. About 40 male health workers from 18 sentinel sites attended the workshop. Dur-ing the workshop new health data collect-ing, reporting and analysis tools and for-mats including a weekly surveillance sys-tem on six epidemic causing diseases were introduced. The participants will start their routine data collecting/reporting according to the new health information system from 1 December 1999. A similar workshop is being held for 15 female health


In Kandahar, UNCHS (Habitat) established girls' schools in the women's community forums of Districts 2 and 6 in Kandahar City. Another community forum in district 6 has been established, which has begun community support activities in education and public health.


With funding from the Government of the Netherlands and Dutch Interchurch Aid, DACAAR has completed a water and sanitation project in Gailan, Ghazni Prov-ince. The project has provided 94 wells, 388 baths, and 231 latrines to a total of over 2,500 families in the area. The community participated in the work. The hand pumps will now be maintained by mechanics trained by DACAAR, whose salaries will now be paid by the community.

Rights of the Child

Fifty Afghan women and forty-five Afghan men in separate sessions in Kabul city were introduced to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in a day-long workshop on 20 November, the tenth anni-versary of the CRC's entry into force globally. This is the first time since the Taliban took over most of Afghanistan in 1992 that the CRC was discussed in a public forum in Kabul. Organised by UNICEF, both six-hour sessions were facilitated by Radda Barnen, the Swedish Save the Children. Due to gender restrictions, the sessions were segregated by gender. A woman staff member of Radda Barnen (based in Pesha-war, Pakistan) conducted the session for fifty Afghan women who work for local or international NGOs or for some of the still-functioning Taliban ministries. The male participants represented different Taliban departments, UN agencies, and NGOs.

The turn-out was greater than ex-pected, and all participants in both work-shops asked for additional training in the CRC. While both groups initially ex-pressed reservations about the relevance of the CRC to Afghanistan, where children's rights are routinely violated, by the end of the day, everyone agreed that especially in a country like Afghanistan, people need to be aware of the CRC. Each participant in Kabul received a newly published booklet containing the CRC in Dari and Pashto. The booklet is a joint publication by UNICEF-Afghanistan Country Office and the Save the Children Alliance.

Radda Barnen had just concluded a 3-day session on the CRC for UNICEF Af-ghanistan staff - including the Country Of-fice in Islamabad and Sub-offices in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, and Kandahar -- which was held from 15-17 November in Islama-bad. Participants in that workshop also agreed that additional training is necessary. The main objective of this workshop was to ensure that all UNICEF project officers are familiar with the CRC.



A Veterinary Service Association manage-ment workshop was held in Peshawar for two days. In addition, a vaccination train-ing course for twenty-one women started in Kabul and Jalalabad provinces. The train-ees were provided with 6,000 doses of Newcastle Disease vaccine during the course. In Kandahar, an animal health and production improvement refresher course was completed for fourteen veterinarians. Routine animal health and produc-tion activities in 255 districts
countrywide are going on smoothly.


FAO has supported 300 model demonstra-tion orchards in 54 fruit growing districts of central Afghanistan during the year.
These model orchards are part of an FAO programme to re-establish orchards in Afghanistan. Costing about USD 2,000, each nursery can produce 10,000 fruit trees, or 30 hectares, per year after an initial pe-riod of two years.

The FAO programme has contrib-uted to reducing the price of fruit trees on the open market, enabling poor farmers to afford high quality fruit trees. The pro-gramme has also improved farmers' in-comes, because yield has dramatically in-creased due to improved management practices. By 2005, when the first orchards planted from the output of the FAO nursery programme are expected to reach their full potential, FAO estimates the annual income from the intervention to be worth USD 27 million.

Mine Action

In southern Afghanistan, 80,529 square metres of land were surveyed for clearance last week, and 129,331 square metres have been cleared. Consisting of agricultural, grazing, residential and irrigation canal areas, the cleared areas are now safe for some 240 residents. In addition, last week 2,927 people received mine awareness training in south-ern region in Kandahar, Zabul and Urozgan Provinces. In eastern Afghanistan the explosive ordnance disposal team (EOD) has
com-pleted five tasks in Jaji District, destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO), including large bombs. In the same district, Mine Action has also cleared 60,000 square me-tres of land for the benefit of 150 farm families.

Mechanical mine clearance is un-derway in Gardez, Paktia Province, where agricultural land is being cleared to make space for a school for 600 students.


In the UNDCP target districts of Ghorak, Maiwand, and Khakriz in southern Af-ghanistan, the excavation, cleaning, and protection of three karezes were completed during the last week by the communities. Work on another forty-eight karezes is 70% complete.


Voluntary Return

The repatriation season for 1999 is now ap-proaching its end. During the past week, fewer families returned to Afghanistan. A total of 137 families/715 persons returned from Pakistan, of whom 21 families/142 persons received assistance in Jalalabad, 16 families/95 persons in Khost, 6 families/31 persons in Kandahar and 94 families/447 persons in Lashkargah (Helmand).

Voluntary repatriation from Iran

During the past week, 51 families/270 per-sons and five Afghan refugees without family-members returned voluntarily to Af-ghanistan through the border at Milak (Nimroz), coming from Zahedan and Kash in Iran, where they had been refugees for up to twenty years. The returnees received the standard repatriation-grant in Iran. Six families/29 persons crossed into Herat through Islam Qala border.

Forcible return from Iran

During the week, there have been no re-ports of forcible returns through Naloki border crossing point for the first week in almost one year.


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