Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 354

The Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), has pledged $CAN 300,000 to UNOCHA. The funds are earmarked for the training initiative for human rights and rights-based programming in Afghanistan.

Women's Day

All four UNICEF sub-offices in Afghanistan and the UNICEF Country Office in Islamabad observed International Women's Day 2000. In the western Afghan City of Herat, two events were held. One was a gathering at the Guzara health clinic, where female health workers, female staff of NGOs, and village women discussed women's health care, the situation of women in female-headed households, and education of girls. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women were introduced and discussed. The second gathering was of teachers and students in home-based schools, where again, the CRC and CEDAW, education for girls, health care for women and female-headed households were the topics of discussion.

In Kabul, two-hour women's meeting was held at Malalai Hospital. About 60 women from NGOs and the UN attended. An UNICEF Protection Officer spoke about women's rights and CEDAW.



Five regions in Afghanistan (northern, western, northeastern, central, and southeastern) have reported measles outbreaks since January of this year. According to WHO, the total number of deaths stands at 507, with more than two-thirds of these fatalities in the central highlands and the southeast. The outbreak is continuing to spread to more remote areas of these two regions.

New outbreaks have occurred in Shegnan and Gharan districts of Badakhshan (following outbreaks reported in other areas of the province) and in the area of Chail Dukhtaran in Kunduz.


A successful meeting of several countries in South and Southeast Asia concluded in Kathmandu on 3 March. From Afghanistan and Pakistan, UNICEF and WHO staff and government officials attended this first time gathering, which focused on cross-border issues in the final battle to eradicate polio.

Disease Incidence

The WHO supported Malaria Control Programme in the Central region of Afghanistan excluding Wardak, Kapisa and Parwan provinces has reported 15,359 positive cases of malaria during 1999. 3.4% out of the total number were positive for plasmodium falciparum--the most fatal type of malaria.

In addition, 17,313 new cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis have been reported to WHO Kabul during 1999.

As part of preventive and protective measures, WHO has provided 20,100 impregnated bed-nets on a subsidised rate for the malaria and leishmania control programme in Kabul, Herat, and Mazar.

During the same period, the National TB Institute of MoPH has reported 335 TB cases, of which 224 were female.

Maternal Health

A joint UNICEF/MOPH/RRD team visited Farah province to monitor EP fixed centres and water and sanitation projects. The provincial Governor pledged support for re-establishing maternal and women's health facilities. Seven districts of Balkh province and four areas around Andkhoy have been selected for safe motherhood and primary health care activities in collaboration with MoPH and Save the Children (US).

Assistance for Hairatan

In a joint meeting of UN agencies and NGOs, chaired by the Foreign Affairs Department (FAD), issues such as provision of humanitarian assistance to Hairatan District and support to a newly established orphanage in Mazar City for 220 children were discussed. FAD requested the provision of food, drinking water, and medicine for Hairatan inhabitants. A joint rapid need assessment of the Hairatan situation will be carried out by the above mentioned agencies and an action plan prepared for the district.

Responding to a request, WHO will be providing ARI supplies and training ten traditional birth attendants in Hairatan District.

Water and Sanitation

Through UNICEF assistance, two hundred and fifty residents of Timorak village of Chabolk district in Balkh province now have potable water, thanks to the installation of one handpump.

In Herat and Badghis provinces, sixteen handpumps were installed on bore wells, thereby providing safe drinking water to 4,000 people.

In the self-help sanitation project in Guzara district of Heart province, 30 sets of family sanitary latrines (FSL) were constructed, with many more families expressing their interest in purchasing FSL. This is thought to be the result of intensive dissemination of health and hygiene messages to the community through RRD mobilisers. RRD sells these latrines to communities at half the actual cost.

The Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) has completed a water supply and environmental sanitation project in Deh Bala, Nangahar Province. The project has benefited over 400 families with fifteen wells and fifty baths and latrines. The community provided unskilled labour and some materials. The hand pumps provided in the project will be maintained by mechanics initially trained by DACAAR but now paid by the community.


In close collaboration with MoPH, WHO conducted a two-week training course for EPI Health Workers in Jalalabad, Kandahar, and Faizabad, while in Ghazni WHO completed a training course for twenty vaccinators. In Mazar-i-Sharif, WHO completed two TBA training courses in Dawlat Abad and Khulm districts of Balkh and Samangan provinces. WHO in Faizabad completed a TB training course and provided TB drugs to Baharak and Jurm Districts TB Centres.

Fifteen female health educators employed by WHO in Jalalabad visited 423 families consisting of 2,620 persons during the week and conveyed health messages to the families.


Five NGOs and three UN agencies participated in a meeting of the Kabul-based Education Coordination Committee. The UNICEF-sponsored project of collecting and cataloguing all materials used in primary education in Afghanistan by NGOs, the authorities, and others was explained. These materials will be displayed from 19-21 April in a symposium in Peshawar, which will also discuss various education-related issues.

In Kandahar, an UNICEF education staff member met with the director of education to follow up on the Governor's suggestion that girls' education be considered. Pre-conditions for the opening of formal girls' schools were proposed by the Governor's office: girls' schools must be in separate buildings from boys' schools, all the teachers must be women; and transportation must be provided for both the students and the teachers. Discussions will continue.

Six radio episodes on health, education, the environment and moral values have been developed and aired by a youth group in Mazar. Save the Children UK, with UNICEF support, has guided the youth group in developing the radio programme for dissemination of "facts for life" messages. Radio Shari'at has also cooperated in this project, which may expand in 2000.



The drought affecting southern Afghanistan is continuing to take a toll on livestock in the region. New reports, as yet unconfirmed, have been received that the drought is now affecting animals in Farah Province.

After assessment in districts of Kandahar and Zabul, a technical mission has reported that the mortality rate of sheep varied between 38% in Shinkay district and 63% in Shemolzai district.


A pilot project to promote kitchen gardens for women was implemented by UNCHS (Habitat) and the NGOs Solidarite and Ibn Sina in Bamiyan City. Within basic health units (BHUs) and hospitals, the project has established model kitchen gardens to train female outpatients in vegetable production and kitchen garden management. In addition, they also received training on nutritional issues concerning vegetables such as nutritional status, preparation of vegetable-based baby foods, cottage processing and preservation methods.

Nearly 200 model kitchen gardens were established by selected women, who received regular technical backstopping from women extension workers to ensure high technical standards in the management of their kitchen gardens. Seventy women were trained in the basic principles of quality vegetable seed production to ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme.

It is expected that such projects have the potential to improve family and child nutrition.


Construction of the Ghorak District Health Clinic was completed by an Afghan NGO with UNDCP funds. On 6 March, the building was handed over to the Afghan NGO Ibn-e-Sina to establish a Basic Health Clinic there to provide health care service to the community. The clinic provides health care for 15,000 people living in fifty villages of the district. The WHO Regional Office in Kandahar will support the clinic.

Construction of the building was part of the Ghorak District Drug Control Action Plan. Hours away from Kandahar City, the district previously had no clinic. The new clinic has a medical doctor, pharmacist, vaccination branch, and dressing facilities. The building has six rooms equipped with water supply, electrification, and sanitation facilities.

Rehabilitation assistance

In the Khowja Ghar reconstruction effort in Takkar Porvince, Shelter Now International has completed the distribution of roofing materials to 473 families in twenty-one villages in the areas of Khowja Ghar and Hazar Bagh. Upon completion of the roof, individuals receive a door and a window.

During the week UNCHS (Habitat), Kandahar continued to support communities in education, health and income generation through its established nine Community Fora (six for men and three for women). 422 patients visited the health clinics of Community Fora in districts 1, 3, 4, and 5 and were treated. The girls' primary schools and income generation enterprises such as tailoring, hat weaving, and embroidery were progressing well in women's Community Fora in districts 1, 2, and 6.



Voluntary repatriation from Pakistan is slowly starting and during the week three families (17 persons) returned from Baluchistan and 65 families (208 persons) returned from NWFP. They received their standard repatriation-grants (wheat, cash for transportation and plastic sheeting).


During the week, some 108 families (532 persons) who had returned with UNHCR assistance from Iran to Farah earlier were provided the wheat portion of their repatriation-grant in Farah City. In preparation of the expected voluntary repatriation from Iran, the planned holding area in Islam-Qala and the transit centre in Herat were surveyed to identify the necessary inputs required before the start of the operation.

While preparations are underway for the start of the voluntary repatriation programme as envisaged with the "Joint Programme," recently agreed between Iran and UNHCR, forcible returns of Afghans continue unabated. During last week alone, 15 families (75 persons) and 1,800 Afghans without family-members were deported through the border at Naloki (Nimroz) and 1,200 Afghans were forcibly returned through Islam-Qala (Herat).

Assistance to Returnees

Activities to address the basic needs of Afghans who returned in late 1999 are ongoing. Two schools for children of returnee families in Garmser district of Helmand and shelter reconstruction projects (through food for work and by providing building materials and tools) for 355 returnee families in Farah province have been successfully completed during the week.

Monitoring of shelter projects for returnees in Nangahar (Behsud and Khewa) has been undertaken and projects for provision of drinking water for returnees and returnee-impacted communities are underway in Ghulran district of Herat.


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