The 2017/2018 winter period was the fifth consecutive year wherein the main planting season for wheat (October-February) has been compromised due to drought. In 2018, more than two thirds of the country – some 20 provinces – are affected by severe rain deficit and limited snowfall in winter season, negatively affecting water availability and impacting both rain fed and irrigated agricultural lands, and pastures. Due to the drought, nearly 50,000 people from affected provinces have been displaced to Herat and Qalai Naw. The drought has had a devastating effect on pre-existing water sources, with 750,000 people experiencing acute water shortages and increase in use of unprotected water sources for drinking, exposing children to waterborne diseases, leading to malnourishment. In addition, 116,912 people are displaced due to conflict , 21,160 returned from Pakistan and 285,226 from Iran , who need assistance. Conflict has caused closure, damage or destruction of 953 schools resulting in more than 500,000 children deprived of education and limited absorption capacity of the education system for displaced children. Similarly provision of healthcare has been a challenge with 63 incidents of attack on health facilities reported in 2018, leading to destruction of 21 and closure of 41 health facilities.
UNICEF leads the nutrition and WASH clusters, coordinates the child protection area of responsibility under the protection cluster and co-leads the education in emergency working group, to strengthen leadership, improve coordination and facilitate robust contingency planning. UNICEF and partners scaled up nutrition response targeting 50 per cent of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) for treatment in 24 affected provinces while considering a shift in strategies to achieve even higher results. In collaboration with the health cluster, UNICEF reaches affected women and children through Mobile Health Teams, measles vaccination of children under five, scaling up health awareness initiatives, provision of critical supplies, as well as capacity building of government counterparts, NGOs and Basic Package of Health Services - BPHS - implementers in the area of maternal health and newborn care. In WASH, durable solutions like small-scale solar pumping networks or gravity-fed system are promoted to cater for the longer term needs of displaced, returnees and host communities, thus strengthening the humanitariandevelopment linkages. As a part of its commitment to localization, UNICEF is working with Ground Truth in assessing support to national and local NGOs. Further actions are planned to enhance the number and quality of partnerships with local actors.
Results from 2018
As of 30 May 2018, UNICEF had US$18.8 million available against the $38.8 million appeal (51 per cent funded). In 2018, 91,127 SAM children received treatment.
Due to closure of returnee transit centers in the first three months of 2018, Vitamin A supplementation target is underachieved, only 9.3 per cent of the planned target. 9,052 women and children received essential health services and 46,253 children received measles vaccination. Due to significant increase in number of measles outbreaks nationwide, UNICEF under the regular development programme is supporting a nationwide measles campaign to be conducted jointly with WHO, Ministry of Public Health and other partners in 2018, immunizing 13 million children across the country, while the humanitarian response is focusing on local measles outbreaks areas directly affected by humanitarian situations.
UNICEF has supported 69,279 emergency-affected persons with access to clean drinking water and 48,724 with access to improved sanitation. UNICEF provided psycho-social support through Child Friendly Spaces helping 55,771 children, while 3,446 received more specialized case management services including family reunification and reintegration into the community. To protect against harsh winters, 82,144 women and children received warm clothes, blankets and other non-food items. With UNICEF support 78,575 children are accessing education services.