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Iran Drought: Support to Afghan refugees Final Report (Appeal No. 21/00)

Originally published
This Final Report is intended for reporting on emergency appeals
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Launched on: 22 August 2000 for 12 months for CHF 2,268,146 to assist 100,000 beneficiaries. The appeal was extended until July 2002.
Period covered: August 2000 - July 2002;
Last Operations Update (no. 04) issued 12 December 2001


Appeal coverage: Covered
Related Appeals: 19/02
This Final Report covers the whole extended implementation period and all contributions received from donor National Societies and other organisations. However, within the operational period a number of separate interim and final reports, which covered particular parts and elements of this operation/programme, were produced. These reports are available on request and with the agreement of specific donors.


A severe drought currently covering large areas of the Caucasus, South Asia and Central Asia had a particularly significant impact in Iran. To assist the Iranian population to meet the challenges posed by the drought and to respond to the critical needs, on 22 August 2000 the Federation launched a twelve months appeal, on behalf of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRCS), with the following objectives:

  • To increase water supply to the refugee camps and, whenever possible and needed, cities and surrounding areas in Zahedan and Zabul regions;

  • To carry out a community based sanitation campaign in the Afghan refugee camps;

  • To establish a community based preventive health care scheme and promote hygiene.
After an initial delay, mainly caused by a slow donor response, the operation gamed momentum and all involved departments at IRCS (both centrally and at the branch level) did there utmost to make up for the time lost. The quantity of water distributed gradually increased as newly purchased and leased vehicles and water pumps were put into operation. Considerable savings were made by producing all the water tanks (fixed and mobile) in IRCS workshops, enabling more vehicles to be purchased and covering the lease of vehicles to compensate for the late delivery of the trucks.

Although the programme was initially planned to end in September 2001, funds were sufficient to cover running costs for another 10 months and donors were informed of this decision.

By the end of 2001, in response to the latest humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, IRCS created two refugee camps along the Afghan border, inside Afghanistan. The camps were in operation until summer 2002, supporting 10,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) with shelter, food, water and medical care. During that time, the drought response operation was extended to service one of the camps - Mile 46 - with fresh drinking water.

In July 2002, IRCS and the Federation launched a new emergency appeal to assist approximately 60,000 people, mostly Afghan refugees, in the same areas, with water and preventive health. The new appeal represents and extension of this operation, and is currently well underway. For more details, refer to operations updates on the appeal 19/02.


IRCS and the Federation have maintained close cooperation with a number of key stakeholders, including the local water and health departments, as elaborated further in the report, as well as UNHCR. Cooperation was demonstrated through regular coordination meetings, and completing each other's efforts and priorities. The water and sanitation department organised chlorination of water collected from the wells in Zahedan, and facilitated water collection and distribution in Zabul. The health department used IRCS volunteers to implement the preventive health activities throughout the region.

Objectives, activities and results

Health and care

Objective 1: To raise awareness of the targeted population in Zahedan and Zabul of the risks of, and ways to prevent, water-borne diseases.

The IRCS, together with the local health department (under the ministry of health) co-ordinated the implementation of preventive health and hygiene promotion programmes in Zahedan and Zabul. A contract was signed between the two parties for the health department to implement the agreed programme using its own staff and IRCS volunteers when needed. Home visitors checked on selected families, giving health and hygiene information and making interviews. A second home visit was made in order to evaluate health and sanitation improvements, the result of which can be observed in the table below.

1st visit
2nd visit
Toilet in compound
Proper garbage disposal
Updated health file
Children & women care
Vaccinated children
Awareness of nutrition
Awareness of diarrhoea effects
Awareness of cholera & typhoid transmission
Awareness of malaria transmission
Awareness of tuberculosis transmission
Awareness of Ascarid
Awareness of Talasemi
Awareness of breast feeding
Awareness of birth control
Awareness of water chlorine
Awareness of disinfecting vegetables & fruits
Using safe water
Leading sewage properly

Dissemination of health information was also carried out through distribution of brochures and posters, as well as the media, which covered the activities substantially.

During the home visits, hygiene items for households were distributed to beneficiaries. A total of 30,000 bars of soap, as well as 4,322 sets of hygienic/household items were purchased and distributed. Each set contained: 1 waste container, 1 toilet water can, 2 tubes of tooth paste, 2 detergents, 1 dish washing liquid, 1 insect spray, 2 shampoos, 2 water containers and 4 tooth brushes. The distribution was delayed in view of the late agreement by the local health department on the implementation of this operational component. The final distribution was completed in March 2002. Part of the beneficiaries receiving the household items were the beneficiaries in the camp 'Mile 46'.

Water and sanitation

Objective 1: Improve the selected population's access to safe drinking water.

The IRCS has been responsible for the implementation of most aspects of the programme, including the planning, procurement, transport and distribution, while the Federation provided technical assistance, monitoring and coordination. The National Society branch cleaned, gravelled and constructed the foundations for the fixed water tanks, signed agreements with well owners and set up a logistical base to distribute fresh water to the most vulnerable population in the selected area. The number of people being supported in full or totally is estimated at about 60,000.

The water was continuously delivered to 17 distribution points in Zahedan and, at its peak, to 15 in Zabul, on a daily basis, except on Fridays. When the so called '800 villages' project started, aiming to connect most of the (Iranian inhabited) villages to the public pipeline, some of IRCS distribution points were closed. Over 400,000 litres was the average amount of water delivered per month during most of the distribution period. At times, however, the water table in Zahedan was very low, thus causing a decrease in the quantity of water delivered down to about 320,000 litres per day.

Formally the quantity of water distribution in Zabul was 120.000 litres, but, similarly to Zahedan, had at times to be decreased to 95,000 litres due to a poor outlet from the well. The average consumption per beneficiary in Zahedan has been considerably lower than in Zabul because in Zahedan some areas have access to the community water system. That water, however, is salty, and can be used for other purposes but drinking, while the water distributed by IRCS is used there only for drinking. In Zabul however, consumption is higher because the distributed water is their only source.

All the 13 new water trucks and 11 new tractors with water trailers, which have been used in this operation, were purchased for this project. The entire fleet carries out two distributions per day. In summer, the distributions were slightly delayed, due to the time necessary for queuing at the bore holes. Also, all vehicles were forced to queue for petrol daily as it was rationed due to the vicinity to Afghanistan, where the petrol price was three to 10 times higher. Unfortunately, the well owners did not permit the water to be collected more than twice a day at each bore hole. To resolve this problem, more vehicles were added to the programme. During the summer months, the price of water almost doubled, rising from 3 to 5 IRR per litre .

Objective 2: To improve the hygiene of selected areas, especially those near the water distribution sites, by carrying out a solid waste disposal campaign.

The programme focused on hiring, training and equipping 23 workers and two drivers for tractors to collect garbage in Zahedan. The prioritised areas were chosen near to the planned and erected water distribution sites. A special area 12 km south east of Zahedan was given by the municipality for dumping the waste. The workers were provided with equipment and two tractors with trailers necessary to transport the solid waste to the dumping site. The entire staff for this program have been Afghan refugees living in off-camp settlements in Zahedan.. In the course of the operation, a law was passed in Iran, preventing organisations from employing Afghans, in view of their lack of legal status in the country. In Iran only 2.5% of all refugees have a valid work permit. After many attempts to keep Afghan beneficiaries as staff in the operation, IRCS was forced to release them and hire Iranian nationals among the beneficiary population.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Fundamental Principles and priorities

Through this operation, IRCS and the Federation advocated the need for provision of minimum standard of assistance to refugees. This was achieved by including Afghan beneficiaries in the implementation programme, as long as it was legally possible. Also, inclusion of the vulnerable Iranian population from the same settlements in this operation ensured a balance in provision of assistance to the most needy groups. The health programme component gave particular attention to women, in view of their central role in the maintenance of households.

National Society Capacity Building

IRCS provincial branch has used this operation to strengthen its logistical and human resources capacity. The vehicle fleet procured through the emergency appeal was handed over to the National Society to replace old malfunctioning trucks and a number of leased vehicles. Also, over 100 new staff and volunteers were recruited and trained to carry out the water, sanitation and health components of the operation. Those capacities are currently being fully utilized in the implementation of the similar operation carried out within the framework of the emergency appeal 19/02, also in response to drought.

Assessment and lessons learned

This project has provided much needed assistance to the vulnerable Afghan, as well as Iranian, population in Zahedan and Zabul regions of the Systan-va-Baluchistan province in the south-eastern Iran. The voluntary repatriation scheme, currently underway under UNHCR coordination, has not had a drastic impact on the numbers of Afghans still needing assistance in the same area. Furthermore, a continuous lack of rain has not improved their access to safe drinking water, and the drought is ongoing. For those reasons, the International Federation and IRCS launched the second consecutive appeal in August 2002, and that operation is underway, assisting 60,000 people with water and preventive health activities. For more information on the present operation, refer to operational updates on the appeal 19/02.

For further details please contact: Evgeni Parfenov, Phone : 41 22 730 43 25; Fax: 41 22 733 03 95; email:

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. The procurement for this operation was carried out in full compliance and conformity with the Federation's standard for international and local procurement.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at

This operation sought to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or long-term capacity building will require additional support, and these programmes are outlined on the Federation's website.

John Horekens
External Relations

Ali Said Ali
Middle East and North Africa Department

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