Assistance for Afghanistan
WEEKLY UPDATE
Issue No.365
30 May 2000
UNITED NATIONS

 

Funding

The Department for International Development (DFID) of the Government of the United Kingdom has given a grant of two million pounds for regional drought relief in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

Health

Planning for the second phase of National Immunisation Days is underway in all regions of Afghanistan. UNICEF organised a workshop on communication for polio eradication, immunisation, and surveillance in Afghanistan, from 15-19 May in Peshawar. Twenty-six participants from WHO, UNICEF Pakistan, UNCDAP, Ibn Sina, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, offi-cials of the REMTs in five regions of Afghanistan and UNICEF's five sub-offices in Afghanistan attended and developed a communication plan.

In eastern Afghanistan, UNICEF, REMT, and WHO have established a regional social mobilisation committee for further strengthening the programme for NIDs. The committee's target group is childcare providers at the village and family level. Disease Outbreaks

According to UNICEF, the provincial health department of Laghman Province has reported a measles outbreak in Garooch and Badpash villages of Dawlatshah district of the province. A group of health professionals was assigned to visit the location to confirm the reports and recommend actions.

Swedish Committee for Afghanistan has reported that the measles epidemic in the north is still not quite under control. Two weeks ago, there was a new outbreak in the village of Hazar Somoch in Takhar Province, killing ten children. SCA sent a team and 500 children were vaccinated.

In Uruzgon, UNICEF has reported an outbreak of typhoid fever in Dai Kundi District. According to local authorities, 200 people have been affected.

Water/Sanitation

UNICEF Kandahar held meetings with the water and sanitation group to select districts for the deepening of a total 251 dried wells. The drilling of two wells in Roshan Meena and Bande-Taj was completed. RRD social mobilisers are disseminating messages on hygiene education and use of clean water.

In Kandahar City, UNCHS (Habitat) continued its well upgrading and hand pump installation project. So far, 45 hand pumps have been installed in districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Kandahar City, and three wells have been drilled. Ten drilling ma-chines are drilling wells in different districts of Kandahar City. In addition, Habi-tat is continuing rehabilitating the city wa-ter network and this week repaired dam-aged pipes and a submersible pump. The Water Sanitation Department has contributed pipes for the project. Another fifty families have just been connected to the city water network.

In Kabul, 600 people were provided with access to safe drinking water through drilling of two semi-deep wells and instal-lation of handpumps. GRRD social mobi-lisers held hygiene education sessions with some 250 people in Kabul and Logar provinces, mainly women and children, including a session on the role of women in maintenance of WES facilities.

In western Afghanistan, UNICEF provided 15 handpumps and well materials to RRD Badghis for boring new wells in drought-affected areas. RRD was advised to organise intensive hygiene promotion through home visits by female volunteers where these handpumps will be constructed for drinking water supply.

The Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) has com-pleted a water supply project in Rodat, Nangahar Province with funding from Dutch Interchurch Aid and the Government of the Netherlands. The thirty-two wells dug will benefit 754 families, while 135 baths and 136 latrines will benefit 136 families. The community participated in site selection, and provided skilled and un-skilled 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 Af-ghanistan has conducted a fourteen-day course in Ghazni. The course included training in boring of dried wells by a new hand drill operator. Three wells were deep-ened during the course and are now func-tioning. The 22 trainees came from south-ern and eastern Afghanistan. They will now continue working on deepening wells that are dry because of the drought.

Education

In Herat, UNICEF held a meeting with a group of female teachers to discuss how to gather education-related data to prepare a good information base. The teachers were briefed about UNICEF's policy and criteria for supporting home schools. A group of teachers was assigned the task of register-ing the home schools in Herat city in order to organise a meeting with teachers to get their view on quality teaching and learning issues. This will also help in clustering the home schools, which will facilitate better planning.

In Kabul, UNICEF provided educa-tion supplies including supplementary reading materials to the NGOs HIFA, GWA, Ashiana, and MSHA for distribution to 3,023 children (boys and girls) in their non-formal education centres in Kabul. In addition, UNICEF also provided 5,000 notebooks to SC-US for distribution to 5,000 children (girls and boys) for their Landmine Awareness training programme.

The Afghan Publishing House of the BBC Afghan Education Projects, with UNESCO's financial support, has recently published another illustrated storybook for Afghan children entitled "The Boy and the Gun." The story highlights the importance of education. The story is simple and has a clear message that real wealth cannot be obtained from weapons, conflict, or aggression, but is obtained through education, compassion, and unity. The book, pub-lished in Dari and Pashto, can be obtained from the BBC Afghan Education Project in Peshawar.

Almost all community-based schools in the Kandahar region, supported by UNOPS/CDAP and funded under the UNDP Afghanistan P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, completed the first academic year. After successfully passing the final examination, 1,357 students (of which 431 are girls) have been promoted.

Mine Action

In southern Afghanistan, the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan this week completed the survey of one residential and one agricultural minefield in Kandahar province, which will benefit 655 persons after the clearance. In addition, one grazing minefield in Panjwai district of Kandahar (benefiting thirty families), two residential minefields, and one agricultural minefield were cleared at the request of local people, benefiting 118 persons.

Human Rights

A human rights orientation workshop was conducted by the Office of the UN Co-ordinator for Afghanistan from 22-26 May in Peshawar. NOVIB funded the workshop and assisted in organising it. Ten aid workers from Afghan NGOs participated. The workshop covered a range of issues including the relevance of human rights to the work of aid agencies. It reviewed the concept and applicability of rights-based pro-gramming, including the need to address structural inequalities that contribute to poverty, social exclusion, and marginalisation.

In western Afghanistan, with the support of UNICEF Herat, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) master trainers organised a two-day training work-shop in Guzara District for 56 participants (29 females and 27 males). The participants requested copies of the CRC and Child Rights in Islam.

In Kabul, UNICEF organised a three-day CRC training workshop in Mala-lai Maternity Hospital for 27 women and a similar workshop for 25 men in the Rural Water supply Department of Kabul. The participants of both workshops were from rural and urban parts of Kabul city.

 

UNITED NATIONS

Special Report on Takhar and Badakhshan

As elsewhere in northern Afghanistan, poor spring rains combined with unseasonally high temperatures are expected to result in a significant reduction in crop production, specifically of spring rainfed wheat, throughout Takhar and Badakhshan. Variations are considerable but an average reduction of 80% is expected with a total crop loss and zero or sub-zero returns (i.e. harvesting the same or less than was sown) being expected in many areas. The situation of irrigated wheat is better, on average, but significant losses are nevertheless expected in specific areas due to irrigation structure problems, as well as in many marginal irrigated areas.

Pasture growth has also been se-verely affected in lowland and some moderate altitude areas. Upland pasture is reportedly not yet badly affected, though competition over pasture access is increasing. Movements of kochis have occurred earlier than normal in response to the dry-ing up of lowland pasture. Production of winter fodder (wheat straw) will obviously be affected due the poor wheat crop.

Rainfall was generally good during the winter, below average in March and low in April, the critical month. The present situation essentially did not start to develop until the end of March. Poor spring rains have been exacerbated by high temperatures. Temperatures have been unseasonally high, with 38 degrees being recorded in Faizabad in late April. These fell but have remained higher than normal until the present. Snow melt has consequently occurred earlier than normal - river flow peaked last week, with such levels being usually seen one month later.

For rainfed wheat, severe crop losses of up to 100% are expected in many areas. Considerable variation in the impact of the drought and potential yield is visible but most crops appear to have been affected to a high degree. Spring wheat has been the most severely affected though high losses are expected from winter wheat - of which much less has been planted - in certain areas. Crops in many areas are displaying retarded growth and are drying out, or have already dried out. Reports have been received of livestock being grazed, deliber-ately, on failing rainfed wheat.

The low and moderate altitude uplands (northern Takhar and northwestern Badakhshan) appear to be the most severely affected. Higher altitude areas have fared better. While in some areas sowing is still ongoing (as is normal), in some areas (e.g. Shar-i-Buzurg) farmers have elected not to plant wheat and other spring crops because of soil moisture shortages.

It is estimated that an average 80% reduction in crop production will be experienced in the region. Much of the region is predominantly, and at times exclusively, rainfed, which obviously renders it most vulnerable.

For irrigated wheat, as with rainfed wheat, the situation is quite varied, from normal (in e.g. Taloqan, Dasht-i-Qala, Fai-zabad, where crops will be ripe in two weeks) to 50-60% crop loss expected (e.g. Khwajaghar, due to canal problems). Areas close to water sources will obviously fare better than others. Early snowmelt and the reduction in irrigation water availability will naturally affect the ability to further irrigate or irrigate subsequent crops.

For pastureland, lowland pasture has clearly suffered severely (winter/spring pastures have reportedly dried up much earlier than normal in Taloqan, Rustaq, Kunduz, etc.) and has occasioned an early kochi movement (a movement from Kun-duz and Takhar to Shiwa and Sheghnan traditionally occurs). Growth on moderate altitude hills is clearly much less than nor-mal and has started to dry out in many ar-eas. The main upland pasture areas - Shiwa, Sheghnan, etc are not expected to have been badly affected but it is expected that competition for pasture access will inevita-bly increase.

In some areas (e.g. Shar-i-Buzurg) local authorities have permitted migrating kochis to pass, but have prevented them from using local pasture to conserve it for local usage. Short-range movements have traditionally occurred between districts neighbouring (e.g. Rustaq to Shar-i-Buzurg) but it is conceivable that that these will be prevented as above Seasonal movements of kochis from Kunduz and Takhar to summer pastures in Badakhshan started two weeks earlier than normal and have now largely passed the Faizabad area. Wheat prices in the region started to increase in April, while greater than usual drops in livestock prices have been reported from Taloqan where local people have been offloading livestock to fund the purchase of wheat.

It is therefore expected that major reductions will be experienced in wheat production and that lesser reductions will occur in fruit and cash crops (e.g. melons, etc., which are presently being planted). Whilst some areas are expected to have normal irrigated outputs these will conceivably be insufficient to cover regional needs, whilst the ability of communities to purchase staple foodstuffs - where it would have existed in the past - will have been weakened due to reduced production of cash crops. Although 1999 was an average year in many areas, few communities have any stocks and little capacity to buffer fur-ther shocks. Additionally some areas e.g. Khwajaghar are only just recovering from the effects of recent conflicts which renders them especially vulnerable.

Kochis will return in the autumn to winter quarters to find a fodder scarce envi-ronment and predictably a depressed, wheat deficit economy in which to sell animals. It is readily conceivable that their economy will be affected similarly to that of seden-tary communities.

 

Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan,
Islamabad, Pakistan.




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