HUMANITARIAN ISSUES & EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Joint UN Mission - A 48 hours UN mission (UNAMA, WFP, UNICEF, UNDSS) was organized to Sharan in Paktika province (South-East) to plan for 2007 activities with counterparts/partners. The province has been inaccessible for the most part of 2006
Military Operation (South)- Following a military operation in Musa Qala district of Helmand Province, over 1,500 families were displaced to the province's capital and other neighbouring districts. UNICEF in coordination with the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) and UN agencies provided 1,500 family kits, 2000 blankets, 6,200 warm jackets, six emergency health kits, 22 tent latrines, 300 tarpaulins and seven cold climate tents to the IDP families.
UNICEF provided 1,000 family kits and 500 blankets to 1,000 families returning back to their villages in Panjwai district of Kandahar province and will support 3,500 more IDP families with Non-Food Items soon.
Avian Influenza (AI) in the East, South & Capital- The Ministry of Agriculture and FAO reported over 20 H5N1 positive poultry cases in Jalalabad, Kunar, Kabul and Kandahar provinces. The National Avian/Human Influenza (A/HI) committee is responding quickly to enforce quarantine, strengthen surveillance, set up fever clinics and start IEC activities. This is almost a month after the GoA announced the country was AI free and removed provincial and borders quarantines. UNICEF's contributions, in coordination with A/HI committee, are mainly in areas of technical support, mass media and social mobilization in the outbreak areas, and technical/financial support of KAP survey of poultry handling practices.
Hepatitis and ARI in the East- A viral hepatitis and ARI outbreak reported in Laghman and Jalalabad provinces on 06 February. Nine deaths were reported as a result of ARI with five cases under the age of five. UNICEF provided 2,000 purification tablets and hygiene education materials in response to the hepatitis outbreak. The ARI is managed by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and NGOs on the ground.
Natural Disasters and Harsh Climate- In response to the harsh winter in Central provinces of Bamyan and Logar in January, UNICEF provided 1,000 blankets and 1,968 warm jackets (different sizes for children, women and men) to the provincial disaster management committee for distribution to the affected families.
Floods - In March, floods were reported in Uruzgan, Helmand, Nemroz Provinces (South); Herat (West) and Daikundi province (Central Region). Over 7,000 families were affected. There are more flood reports which are yet to be confirmed. UNICEF in coordination with Provincial Governor's office, UN agencies and NGOs provided 1,577 family kits, 2418 blankets, 755 floor mats, 1,122 items of plastic sheeting, 500 warm jackets and 3,154 collapsible water jerry cans to the affected families.
Avalanches- In March, an avalanche was reported in Western province of Ghor affecting 138 families. As a result 12 people died and 13 were injured. Local resources were used in response to the event. There are further reports of avalanches with deaths and injuries from North-eastern province of Badakhshan but the reports are to be confirmed.
Avian/Human Influenza Simulation - In March an A/H I simulation exercise, facilitated by the Regional Office, was conducted in Afghanistan with the participation of the programme sections, Operation units, Zonal Offices and UN partners (WHO and UNAMA).
A new UN Joint Programme on Youth is in the process of being finalized with the GoA. Around 150,000 youths will be supported to provide services to children in the next three years with a US$ four million budget by UNICEF. Nine government ministries are involved and it will take at least six months to complete a youth assessment. The selected youths will be trained as Community-Based teachers, vaccinators during the National Immunization Days and support any voluntary/social services across the county.
Improving Girls' Education- Efforts are being made to enrol an additional 400,000 girls in schools through UNICEF supported Community-Based Schools (CBS) by providing teachers training, student and teachers learning kits, and supplies. CBS is increasing girl's education by including 46,908 out-of-school children.
The first meeting of the Ministry of Education technical working group for the Afghanistan Girls' Education Initiative was held on 26 March. The working group includes members from 18 organizations. The group is expected to monitor, provide technical capacity and mobilize resources to accelerate the progress for this initiative.
Distribution of Teaching and Learning Materials- Total of 197,601 kits (first grade start up kit, second-sixth grade top up kits and teacher kits) were distributed to primary schools starting in March. Total number of primary school students and teachers benefiting from teaching-learning materials in March is 85, 4375 first grade (boys & girls), 3,600,650 second-sixth grade students (boys & girls) and 91,413 teachers (male/female).
Women's literacy- Over 45,000 women under Afghanistan Integrated Functional Literacy Initiative are benefiting from 1500 literacy centres in 16 provinces. The plan for 2007 is to reach 140,000 women across Afghanistan.
Inclusive Education- Being piloted in three schools in Kabul, the project focuses on providing education for 30 children with a variety of disabilities through specialized teaching methods based on specific needs.
Education in Emergency Workshop- Organized by the country office with technical support from ROSA (regional office in South Asia), the workshop focused on preparedness responses for ensuring that education is provided to children in the temporary learning centres during emergencies. Participants included UNICEF at zone levels and 22 government counterparts from both the Ministry of Education and Provincial Education Departments.
HEALTH / NUTRITION
Polio Eradication- National Immunization Days (NIDs) are targeting 7.3 million children nationwide of which 0.79 million are in the South. Two rounds of sub-national vaccination campaigns 14-16 Jan and 18-23 February targeted the high risk provinces in the Southern and Eastern regions, and in Baglan province of Northern region where 2.8 million children were targeted for each round.
To implement recommendation of the "Urgent Stakeholders Consultation on Polio Eradication" in Geneva- Meetings were held with donors in Kabul with the Senior Funding Officer from NYHQ, Philippe Cori, joined by representatives from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), WHO, and UNICEF.
A joint mission of the Presidential Adviser on Health and Education, MoPH, UNICEF and WHO met with the Provincial and district Governors of Kandahar. The Governors re-affirmed their commitments and identified concrete actions to be taken in the upcoming months.
Measles and TT campaign -The second phase of combined measles and TT immunization campaign, focused on the remaining 29 districts of South and two provinces of Eastern region. This phase targeted around 588,000 children under five against measles and 692,000 women of child-bearing age against tetanus.
Nutrition/Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) -Twenty health workers of Parwan Pansjheer and Kapisa were trained on infant and young child feeding and care to enhance their capacity in breast-feeding counseling and the Baby Friendly Hospital initiative. In addition, 34 Provincial Nutrition Officers were trained on Nutrition Surveillance to enhance their capacity to monitor nutrition trends in the communities.
WATER AND SANITATION
Hygiene Education - For the first time in Afghanistan, the ministry of rural development (MRRD) has developed a National Hygiene Education Policy Guidelines.
Alternate technology option - Installation of solar water pumping system, as alternative technology in extraction of water, is planned in some schools, health centres and displaced camps on pilot basis. Upon successful installation, the Ministry is considering scaling up. The Ministry of Rural Development received these solar pumping units from the Asian Development Bank. UNICEF will share the cost of installation and provision of water storage tanks and distribution system.
Technical assessment for the collection of Snow/rain water run-off catchments-tanks (as per the request of the communities in the North) is in progress in the areas where ground water is non-existent and/or is very deep.
Re-integration -Targeting more than 500 former child soldiers and those affected by conflict in southern province of Kandahar has begun in March.
Field Monitoring- Establishment of child rights monitoring unit in 11 regional centres of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) to conduct proactive monitoring and identify child rights violations. This field monitoring covers six areas addressed in the Security Council Resolution 1612.
Revitalization of Birth Registration project- To be tested in six provinces, the project aims to ensure registration of all children immediately after birth. Due to the conflict and government limitations in terms of access, technical and financial resources and cultural sensitivities, birth registration was limited to a few maternity hospitals. UNICEF is supporting the Minister of Interior through procurement of required supplies as well as Technical assistance in preparing training plan and implementation guidelines.
BCC pilot project: As a first step in implementing a Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) to reduce child and maternal mortality in six pilot districts through key household practices or 'recommended behaviours', a workshop in Strategic Behavioural-based Communication was held in Kabul with the participation of UNICEF zonal offices, Government and NGO partners.
Social Mobilization for Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI): A community-based social mobilisation network was established in the seven high-risk districts of Kandahar province through NGO partners. Four categories of community influencers; religious leaders, village elders, teachers and Community Health Workers; were mobilised to engage with communities to give information about the benefits of immunisation, vaccine safety for newborns and sick children.
Avian Influenza: Programme Communication has been involved in the 'Emergency Meetings' called by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for a communication rapid response in terms of Information, Education, Communication (IEC) materials to be sent to the affected areas as well as engagement of local community leaders through inter personal communication. UNICEF is also providing technical and funding support to a knowledge, attitude and practices study around poultry handling habits and hygiene practices for a behaviour baseline in affected and high risk areas.