Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 356

Situation Report
Originally published
NGO Concern Over Sanctions
The Afghan NGO Coordination Centre, the Islamic Coordination Council, and the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief have written a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. They have requested that a system be instituted to monitor the impact of the current Security Council sanctions on the Afghan population. They have also noted that expansion of the sanctions would increase the hard-ships faced by the Afghan people.

The Drought

The UN/NGO task force on the drought in southern Afghanistan met last week. The geographical extent of the current affected area is still defined as the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimroz, with some effects seen in Zabul and Uruzgan.

So far, livestock owners of the Registan desert, who are mainly Kochis, are most seriously affected. Some have lost up to 100% of their stock. After review of historic animal numbers in the area, FAO has found that in 1997/98 there were an estimated four million sheep and goats owned by Kochis in Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz. Total cattle, sheep, and goats are estimated at about 5.6 million.

FAO also found that while production of urea/molasses blocks in Peshawar would theoretically be possible, about 140 tonnes of blocks would suffice for 1.5 mil-lion sheep for one day and would cost USD $30,000. Thus, supplementary feeding of livestock may not prove feasible on any meaningful scale without a large injection of cash.

The situation is likely to get worse because the period for rain is rapidly ending, and the next rains are not expected until December.

UNOPS has started water conservation measures by building small dam walls in karezes, and will now field a mission to explore ways of expanding water conservation. In addition, in collaboration with MCI, OPS will review water supply from Kajaki Dam and will determine the extent of water supply to agricultural areas irrigated by the dam.

UNCHS (Habitat) in collaboration with UNICEF is updating information on the situation of wells and urban water supply. They will link up with DACAAR, the lead agency in water/sanitation in southern Afghanistan, to obtain information on the status of potable water supply in rural areas.

Given the lack of safe water in cities, and the possibility of disease outbreaks due to lack of safe water, UNICEF and WHO will review the incidence in order to get a realistic picture of changes in the health situation which are attributable to drought.

Local authorities in Kandahar will also be approached to help assess the situation and share their plans to cope with the drought.


International Tuberculosis Day

The World Health Organization observed International Tuberculosis Day on 24 May. In all areas of the country, meetings focused on raising awareness about the disease.

The total number of tuberculosis cases in Afghanistan is over 133,000, of whom about 70% are female. Each year, at least 15,000 Afghans die due to TB.

In collaboration with several NGOs, WHO supports thirty tuberculosis facilities in Afghanistan, and provides training, medicine, and laboratory facilities. The World Food Programme assists in TB control by providing food to TB patients.

In 1993, WHO's Global Tuberculosis Programme declared TB a global emergency.

Polio Immunization Days Scheduled

The first National Immunization Days (NIDs) in Afghanistan for the year 2000 will be held from 1 to 3 May and 3 to 5 June. There will be another two rounds in October/November.

Afghanistan is one of fourteen countries where wild poliovirus still exists. UNICEF and WHO will appeal to all factions to observe days of tranquillity to allow NIDs to reach all the children of Afghanistan.


The Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) has completed a water supply project in Nahri-Seraj district of Helmand Province, with funding from DANIDA.

The fifteen wells dug will benefit 302 families, while over forty baths and latrines will benefit forty-two families. The community participated in site selection, and provided unskilled labour and some materials. The pumps provided in the project will be maintained by mechanics initially trained by DACAAR but now paid by the community.


The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan's (SCA) reconstruction works in Logar and Wardak after last year's earthquake is now completed. SCA has reconstructed ten schools in Wardak and has completed repairing forty-nine collapsed shallow wells in Wardak and Logar provinces.

The NGO Ariana Construction and Rehabilitation Unit (ACRU) has begun a six-month training program for NGO staff in Kabul city entitled "Institutional Development and Office Management for Afghan NGOs' Capacity Building."

The training aims to strengthen over 400 NGO staff in computer skills, accounting, and office management. The project is funded by CIDA.


FAO Crops have carried out irrigation of two farmers' wheat field demonstration plots in Balochan Qalacha and Yakh Karez villages of Dand District in Kandahar.

An FAO-run irrigation unit established in Peshawar in 1990 is dealing with flood protection and watershed management. Its main function is the promotion of technical standards and the rehabilitation of irrigation structures to sustain the livelihood of farmers and return of refugees to minimize their dependency on food aid. The long-term objective is to redesign and reconstruct damaged irrigation systems and bring all available agricultural land back into cultivation. Rehabilitation of traditional irrigation systems is also concerned with the efficient use of water at the farmer/community level. The unit also concentrates on training and re-training local mirabs (water bailiffs) and key farmers in the efficient use of water to improve the productivity of agriculture land.


CDAP/UNOPS Female Physiotherapy Centre in Shega district of Kandahar has started functioning with the help of village elders. All arrangements for the Daman district Physiotherapy Centre have also been completed. Both centres can cover the physical disabilities of their localities. These centres could be used by disabled as well as non-disabled people for the sake of disability rehabilitation and prevention.

These physiotherapy centres will also be used as centres for dissemination of disability awareness, advocacy and basic health messages.

Afghan National Sign Language

A workshop for the development of Afghan sign language was jointly organized by CDAP/UNDP, SERVE/SHIP, and HIFA in Kabul. Nine hearing impaired people and three professional facilitators from HIFA Kabul, SHIP Jalalabad, and CDAP Peshawar shared their experiences on how to develop an Afghan National Sign Language Dictionary of 2, 000 words and signs. Around 500 new signs were collected by hearing impaired people and were approved in this workshop.

The second phase of this workshop was arranged in Peshawar where the group finalized the '2000 words sign language dictionary', which will be mainly used to educate hearing impaired people.


In the UNDCP target districts of Maiwand, Ghorak and Khakrez in southern Afghanistan, about 200 farmers received the first training of the season on fertilizing and top dressing the wheat crops.

In Maiwand, two spillways equipped with control gates on the Loya Wala canal were completed while the construction of other flood control structures on the same canal are in progress. The canal provides irrigation water for 7,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Sang-I-Sar area.

In Khakrez district, shura members recently agreed to allow women to attend the midwife training centres, which will soon be established in collaboration between UNDCP and WHO in the district. WHO will provide training equipment and allowances for the trainees while a UNDCP female community mobiliser will facilitate the training.


The first major repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan in 2000 began on 27 March.

Some 450 Afghans left Peshawar for the village of Ambar Khana in Batikot district, Nangahar province, eastern Afghanistan. A second group of 350 is expected to follow on 29 March.

Since January, more than 3,000 refugee have returned to Afghanistan, and 2,517, 542 have returned from Pakistan since 1990. The refugees are returning to the relatively peaceful areas (Central, Eastern and Southern regions) of Afghanistan.

The refugees received a repatriation grant of $100 per family, 300 kilograms of wheat (provided by WFP) and plastic sheets.

A UNHCR assessment team is in Karachi, which has a large urban refugee population. The first repatriation from Karachi to Kandahar is planned for next week.

UNHCR's offices in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif, will monitor respect for the rights of the returnees, as enshrined in the declarations of amnesties. These include non-discrimination because of religion, ethnic origin, and gender; access to immovable property and land; and exemption from conscription for at least one year following return.

UNHCR is also undertaking projects designed to meet the most pressing needs of the returnees during the initial re-integration phase primarily in the areas of shelter and potable water.

In 1999, more than 92,000 Afghan refugees returned home from Pakistan and more than 77,000 from Iran.

There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, making Afghans the single largest refugee group in the world for the last twenty-one years.

Some 200,000 Afghan refugees are expected to repatriate from Pakistan and Iran this year.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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