Afghanistan Weekly Update No. 410

Situation Report
Originally published
Famine Relief Underway in Hazarajat
The first phase of the Hunger Belt Famine Relief Emergency Programme has been successfully completed. The programme was initiated in late 2000 due to a sharp deterioration in food security in the Hunger Belt region, which includes Hazarajat.

Amidst these efforts, a series of military encounters took place between the belligerent sides in the region. The fighting led to massive displacement of civilians in the region.

An umbrella of aid groups - IAM, CCA, GRSP, Ertebat, ERAA, and NAMAMA - and DHSA as lead agency undertook the implementation of the programme in seven operational zones of the programme target areas.

Mandated to deliver and distribute a total of 3,000 MT of wheat under phase one, the Hunger Belt teams undertook beneficiary selection and wheat distribution in their respective zones within different time frames. As a high altitude mountainous area with underdeveloped infrastructure, the Hunger Belt was vulnerable to being cut off in winter.

Within the period, three massive snowstorms and avalanches blocked all passes. The Access & Mobility Programme mobilised 1,000 local workers, under a food for work scheme to clear the snow and keep the supply routes open for humanitarian personnel and goods as well as private trade.

The spring thaw and the rising rivers posed yet another threat to transport. The programme included reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged parts of supply roads in several locations in the area.

The nutrition project is part of this overall intervention. Nutrition teams have been sent to all seven operational zones alongside other personnel of the Hunger Belt Programme.

Nutrition surveys have been conducted in all seven operational zones of the Hunger Belt, using MUAC as well as height and weight measurements.

In the meantime, production of the CSB (corn-soy blend) flour has already started in Kabul. The first 1,000 bags of a total of 10 metric tonnes were sent to Balkhab, where the nutritional status of many children under five has been called 'critical'.

New UNICEF Representative Arrives

The new UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan arrived in Pakistan recently. Mr. Eric Laroche has worked in various countries in Asia and Africa for over seventeen years. He spent his first three weeks as UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan travelling inside Afghanistan. During orientation meetings with staff and other partners, Mr. Laroche has focussed on ways to improve the development of Afghan children and has emphasized the rights of the child. He also focused on education of girls and boys, the specific needs of vulnerable girls, boys and women, and the rights of women.

Group Concerned about Humanitarian Access

In a recent meeting, the Consultative Group on Human Rights noted that the authorities in a number of cases have deliberately blocked access by vulnerable communities to assistance available from humanitarian agencies. Specifically, access has been blocked in frontline areas and to specific regions; some communities in Hazarajat have been very severely affected by such practices. A paper that sets forth the right to access has been developed. It is designed to facilitate greater awareness and analysis of such situations so that there is clearer understanding of the circumstances and implications of communities being denied access to assistance that is often vital for survival.

Donor Pledges Welcomed

The UK Government through the Department for International Development (DFID) pledged =A3 3,000,000 to the following agencies:

  • =A32,200,000 in response to drought to WFP;
  • =A3100,000 for provision of non-food items in IDP camps to UNOCHA;
  • =A3200,000 for provision of non-food items to IDPs in the north and north-east to UNICEF (previously reported in Weekly Update 404);
  • =A3500.000 in response to drought to ICRC.
Meanwhile, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia delivered 61 tons of food, relief material and medical supplies to Afghanistan for the most needy Afghans. The donation is worth US$ 288,788.

Say Yes to Afghan Children

The Global Movement for Children (GMC) is an international movement which brings together individuals, groups, organisations and leaders to promote "Children First on Every Agenda." Save the Children and UNICEF are among the leading partners in the GMC.

The first step is to mobilise those who are involved in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS, September 2001, New York) to ensure that world leaders at UNGASS will adopt an action plan in the interest of children.

As part of the preparations for UNGASS, a Say Yes Campaign was launched internationally on 26 April 2001 by a broad range of international personalities, including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and Bill Gates. The campaign asks people to pledge support for all ten principles, and to identify the three most pressing needs for their countries. People can sign up for Say Yes via the Internet at:

For Afghanistan, a GMC working group including Save the Children, UNICEF, UN agencies, and various local and international NGOs has met regularly since the end of 2000 to review the situation of Afghan children from 1990 to 2000 and to prepare a package to consult Afghan children on various issues.

The GMC Working Group for Afghanistan will be involved in the Say Yes Campaign. Participation of Afghan people and children in the campaign will be encouraged in the coming months.

Herat IDPs Employed in ECHO Projects

Over 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are working in various projects funded by ECHO and implemented by UNDP/UNCHS in Herat. The projects include road repair and drainage. Included among these 1,000 workers are 200 women working in pasta production projects. Five more pasta centers were established in Maslakh IDP camp, and 250 kilos of pasta are being produced daily.

The number of IDPs in the Herat camps now exceeds 140,000 and is still increasing at the rate of about 1,500 per day. WFP is providing 7 kilos of wheat per person per month. A corn-soya-blend porridge with sugar was also being given daily to mothers and children in the camps, but it was replaced with a porridge comprised of wheat flour, sugar and oil (due to a break in the supply pipeline of corn-soya-blend to the camps) since last week.

Meanwhile, a joint mission of WFP, UNHCR, and IOM to assess overall food security in Badghis and reasons for increased out-migration towards Herat City has been completed. Data collected by the mission are currently being analysed.

Swedish Committee Assists Badghis

Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) is donating US$ 100,000, raised among the Swedish public, for a FOODAC project to benefit over 60,000 drought victims in and from Badghis province. SCA is carrying out the project in co-operation with the World Food Programme and DACCAR.

Badghis is one of the most drought-stricken provinces in Afghanistan. The project will be implemented in Qadis district, where the May/June rainfed harvest will fail completely.

Over nine months, the project will provide resources to allow the re-establishment of rain-fed agricultural production in the drought-stricken district. It aims to reduce the flow of IDPs to the camps around Herat City and to encourage the return of IDPs from Herat to cultivate their land. The project also aims to provide food for trade and consumption.

It will use 123 metric tones of wheat seeds, provided by WFP, and 123 metric tones of fertilizers--enough to sow 2,050 hectares of rainfed land. It will also provide assistance to pay for 50 % of the ploughing costs.

Despite the severe drought in Badghis most of the population in Qadis has remained. This is largely due to previous FOODAC projects implemented by DACAAR in the district. Other districts in the province, where no such projects been undertaken, show a higher level of migration.

UNICEF Supports Safe Motherhood

Because of pregnancy related causes, an average of 46 women die in Afghanistan every day. World-wide, nearly 600,000 women between the age of 15 and 49 die every year as a result of complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth. The majority of these deaths are avoidable.

In Afghanistan, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), the number of maternal deaths in 100,000 live births, is the second highest in the world at 1,700. In comparison, the average MMR in Europe is 36 per 100,000 live births.

Currently, UNICEF is supporting the Safe Motherhood Initiative in four provinces: Logar, Laghman, Farah and Balkh, which will benefit an estimated 100,000 women.

The programme will first ensure that the health facilities (one hospital and four health centres in each province) are able to manage emergencies associated with pregnancy. It will require trained female staff supplied with the necessary drugs and equipment to manage emergencies. Physical upgrading and/or renovation of health facilities are also required in some cases. These activities are being carried out at present with the support of NGOs and other UN agencies. In the coming months, training dealing with obstetric complications will be carried out.

The SMI will then focus on mobilizing the community to utilize these services. This will require community awareness and education of women and men on the recognition of complications and the need for prompt treatment. Other important activities are nutrition related, such as the distribution of iron tablets, distribution of Vitamin A capsules to women after delivery and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding. In addition, safe delivery practices and promotion of tetanus toxoid vaccination will also be promoted.

CDAP Conducts First Aid Training

The Comprehensive Disabled Afghans Programme (CDAP/UNOPS/UNDP), in co-ordination with the Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organisation, conducted a first aid training course for a group of twenty community members in Khulm district (Samangan Province) and Aqcha district (Jowzjan Province) last week. Participants were taught different basic ways to help people in emergency cases and to prevent infection. CDAP trains community workers and volunteers in different areas of health so that they can work with community members and villagers who lack access to clinics.

In addition, CDAP has started a systematic training course on Braille, sign language, and mental retardation in Mazar. Community and development workers, community volunteers, and field workers are attending this course. The aim of the this training to increase skills in the field of Braille and sign language, so they can serve visually impaired and deaf people, enabling them to be mainstreamed in schools. Last week, CDAP conducted similar training in Wardak Province.

Micro-Credit Workshop Held

CDAP and ACBAR arranged a one-day national workshop on micro-credit in Afghanistan. This was the second workshop of its kind, which focused on major problems faced by agencies involved in small businesses in Afghanistan. About 20 NGOs and UN agencies participated in this national workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to seek solutions to major problems such as currency devaluation, sustainability, mode of financing, and unification in strategies and policies where it is appropriate. The workshop tasked a joint UN and NGO working group to propose practical and field-oriented solutions to these problems and study the impact of the ongoing programs.

Swedish Committee Contributes to Polio Campaign

In southeastern Afghanistan, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) participated in the second round of National Immunization Days. Between April 17 and April 19, in fourteen districts of Khost province, 121,427 children were vaccinated, while 97,653 children were vaccinated in twelve districts of Paktia. In total, SCA helped vaccinate 219,080 children under the age of five against polio.

AITM Completes Sixth Gender Workshop

Afghan Inkishaafee Tarbiawee Markaz (AITM), formerly known as the training unit of the Save the Children (UK) conducted a five day gender workshop from 16 (superscript: th) to 20(superscript: th) April 2001 in Peshawar for 12 female and 8 male participants from NGOs and a school for Afghan refugees.

The workshop was made possible through UNDP/World Bank funding. Participants received training in the meaning and terminology of gender and in understanding gender from an Islamic viewpoint. The workshop also emphasized the need to consider gender in the process of development.

So far, six training workshops in gender have been conducted.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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