Afghanistan

Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 348

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Andrew Tesoriere to Depart
Andrew Tesoriere, the acting head of UNSMA, will depart on 8 February after eighteen months of service. He hopes to return to work for Afghanistan's welfare as he has been doing periodically over the past twenty-four years. He extends his best wishes to all those with whom he has had the honour to work towards seeking an end to the fighting in Afghanistan and the start of talking, leading to an equitable and dura-ble peace.

He recalls in particular the positive intra-Afghan peace talks in Ashkabad in February and March 1999, which he facili-tated, and hopes that the two Afghan factions will soon find the ways and means to resume such constructive dialogue.

Francesc Vendrell, Personal Repre-sentative of the Secretary-General and the new Head of UNSMA, is scheduled to ar-rive this week.

Mission

A mission of representatives from the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) has arrived in Islamabad and will be visiting Afghanistan. Switzerland is the chair of the Afghanistan Support Group (ASG) for the year 2000.

Food aid/Food security

A convoy of food and non-food items is scheduled to leave Kabul for the Panjshir Valley this week. At least 15 MT of wheat from the World Food Programme is in-cluded in the shipment. More food and non-food supplies are expected to reach the valley in the coming weeks. The convoy will also include one international staff member from WFP.

The WFP emergency distribution in Ghor province is ongoing. As of 23 January, 146 MT of wheat had been distributed to approximately 3,000 families in the districts of Cheghcharan, Shahrak, and Tulak. 712 MT of wheat has been approved.

The emergency distribution in Khoja Gar in Takhar province is ongoing. To date 239 MT of wheat has been distrib-uted to 4,896 families. 979 MT of wheat and 300 MT of CSB were approved for distribution by WFP.

The WFP emergency distribution in Kandahar province, covering 10 districts is expected to begin this week. 5,729 MT of wheat and 716 MT of CSB have been approved for distribution to 28,645 families.

Health

Disease outbreak

Afghan doctors in Darra Souf district of Samangan Province have now identified the unknown disease reported last week as measles. Oxfam has confirmed this infor-mation. So far fifty deaths have occurred, partly due to complications such as pneu-monia.

UNICEF is sending in antibiotics and vitamins from Kabul, which will be initially trucked in and later complete the journey by donkeys.

In addition, there are now also re-ports of a measles outbreak in Jaghori district of Ghazni Province, where so far 167 cases and five deaths are reported.

The WHO attributes the outbreaks to inability to inoculate children against common diseases due to their displacement as well as due to difficulties in reaching Hazarajat for routine immunisation over the past several years.

Water/Sanitation

In UNICEF's Water and Environmental Sanitation Programme, 20 household la-trines have been completed in Alinegar district of Laghman province, bringing the total to 70 against the target of 100. A UNICEF female staff member discussed the siting of latrines with community women.

Social mobilisation and hygiene education are under way in Mehterlam City of Laghman by two RRD female mobilis-ers. They visited 50 houses in the project area and discussed health and hygiene is-sues with women.

According to RRD Kunar, the pipe laying in Shinkorak pipe water supply scheme is underway and the RRD team has extended another 200 meters of pipes dur-ing the week. The construction work of the reservoir has been temporarily stopped due to cold weather.

Education

In the last five months of 1999, UNDP-funded UNOPS/CDAP with the support of all P.E.A.C.E. partners and UNICEF, suc-ceeded in establishing and supporting 44 basic community schools in which 2,830 students (2,053 boys and 777 girls) are get-ting basic education in six districts of Kan-dahar and Farah provinces. There are 65 male and 14 female teachers regularly teaching in these schools.

Community demand is increasing for establishing other schools in other villages. Local authorities have also been re-questing the expansion of the programme to other villages and districts. They have pro-vided written agreement for the employ-ment of female staff in the project as female education field supervisors.

Presently, two women supervisors are working, (one in Farah, and one in Kandahar). More female staff members are due to be recruited.

UNICEF will lead an external evaluation of the BBC/AEP drama project in first half of 2000. The first meeting of the eleven donors to the project was con-vened at the UNICEF office on 28 January to agree on the purpose, methodology, and evaluation.

Rehabilitation Assistance

In southern Afghanistan, 250 tree cages have been manufactured and distributed for tree plantation under Habitat's environ-mental program. Habitat has also helped construct a women's health clinic in district 5 of Kandahar City, which is now opera-tional.

Also in southern Afghanistan, with the assistance of UNOPS/ARRP, the desil-tation of Dand drainage system (total length 38 kilometres) has been completed, as have twenty-eight canal crossings.

Agriculture

FAO Livestock

In Kabul and Nangahar provinces, women veterinarians carried out urea-straw treat-ment demonstrations for 160 women farmers in various villages.

FAO Livestock's women's pro-gramme began in May 1995 with one woman Afghan veterinarian. In 1997, FAO began recruiting more women veterinarians, who were taught participatory meth-ods. In spite of difficult conditions, the vets manage to work in five districts of Kabul, Nangahar, and Herat.

In addition to seventeen women veterinarians, FAO has trained forty-eight women basic veterinary workers and over 2,700 village women. The female vets are trained in general animal health, produc-tion, and husbandry. They also assist in poultry vaccination campaigns (particularly against Newcastle disease).

FAO Crops

In southern Afghanistan, data gathering on seven wheat experimental trials was com-pleted.

As part of its crop improvement programme for Afghanistan, FAO is testing varieties of wheat, rice, barley, maize, and legumes.

In 1997-98, 941 wheat genotypes were tested inside Afghanistan, out of which the best 174 were selected for further testing in the 1998-99 crop year. These tri-als help FAO to determine which strains of wheat are resistant to disease and suited to growing conditions in various parts of the country.

Once the best genotypes are identi-fied, they are released and recommended to farmers. FAO has found that certain varie-ties tested for growth under irrigated conditions out-perform other varieties significantly and are resistant to disease such as stripe rust.

Since 50% of the arable land in Af-ghanistan is not irrigated, FAO has also developed varieties of wheat that can tolerate water stress. The varieties released to farmers in this programme produce yields similar to the national average yield for rainfed wheat.

Narcotics

In Ghorak district, one of UNDCP's three pilot poppy reduction districts in southern Afghanistan, UNDCP recently completed the construction of a health clinic. WHO has agreed to provide basic health equip-ment and medicine whereas Ibn-e -Sina (an NGO) agreed to provide health personnel for the clinic.

The UNDCP female community mobiliser (FCM) trained forty-two women in the three districts on drug awareness, ba-sic health, sanitation, and UNDCP activi-ties in the districts.

Technical agriculture training was conducted in these districts for a group of fifty-seven farmers, who learned about fer-tiliser application, irrigation, weeding, and pest and disease management.

In addition, protection work on the karez irrigation system of Maiwand district was completed. The work included four spur dikes, gabon work, and a wash-culvert construction.

Refugees/Returnees

Voluntary Return

During the last week of January, UNHCR assisted 167 families (327 persons) return-ing to eastern Afghanistan, sixteen families (seventy persons) plus eighty-three singles to western Afghanistan, and ten families (forty-eight persons) to southern Afghanistan. In total, 193 families (528 persons) were assisted.

In addition, over 2,700 spontaneous returnees from Iran have crossed the border at Islam Qala.

Forcible Return

During the past week, 191 Afghans (twenty families and eighty-six singles without families) have been deported from Iran.

Reintegration Assistance

In western region, safe drinking water proj-ects in three districts have been started.

In eastern region, sites for seven tube wells have been selected in Meshwani and Anbar Khana villages of Batikot dis-trict.

In southern region, the rehabilitation of Upper Bagat Canal in Garmsir district has been successfully completed. Three hundred farming returnee families and 200 IDP families will benefit from this irrigation project by cultivating 12,000 jeribs of arable land.

In the north, work on protec-tion/diversion walls and potable water proj-ects has resumed in Saripul and Pulikhumri.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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