In Afghanistan, an estimated 3.8 million children will need protection and humanitarian assistance in 2019 due to increased violence, the impacts of natural disasters, including drought, and the harsh winter, which will hamper access to critical basic services. Given the multiple vulnerabilities that the population is already experiencing, this situation has exacerbated humanitarian needs. In 2018, nearly 289,000 people were verified as newly displaced by conflict, and displacement trends may worsen given the likelihood of insecurity ahead of the presidential elections planned for 2019. Up to 39 per cent of the population is poor, 10 million people lack access to essential health services and 3.5 million children (60 per cent of them girls) are out of school. One third of children in Afghanistan have experienced psychological distress related to the loss of family and the constant risk of death or injury due to conflict and attacks on schools. An estimated 2 million children under 5 years are suffering from acute malnutrition, including 600,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Persistent conflict has created long-standing socio-economic and development challenges that cannot be addressed through humanitarian assistance alone
As the cluster lead agency for nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and education, UNICEF will continue to provide effective leadership and strengthen coordination, planning and response in Afghanistan.
The 2019 health and nutrition response will shift to build on lessons learned in 2018. This will include expanding the use of sub-district health centres and mobile teams to provide crisis-affected people in hard-to-reach areas with essential health services. While integrated approaches are costlier, they have proven to be an effective method of reaching the most affected children and women with life-saving humanitarian assistance. As part of efforts to strengthen the linkages between humanitarian action and development programming, UNICEF will invest in local and community capacities, such as child protection action networks and community-based education actors, to identify durable solutions to the most pressing needs of affected populations. This will include leveraging its strengthened and expanded partnerships with local and national nongovernmental organizations to reach remote locations; and contributing to multi-sector, multi-agency needs assessments, while advocating for and applying multi-year humanitarian planning.
Results from 2018
As of 31 October 2018, UNICEF had US$24.3 million available against the US$38.8 million appeal (63 per cent funded).
In 2018, UNICEF and partners reached 1.6 million children, women and other emergency-affected people with humanitarian assistance. Support focused on people affected by drought and conflict and returnees from Iran and Pakistan. Services were provided both in camps for internally displaced persons and in places of origin, particularly for the drought response. UNICEF provided an integrated package of support that included gender-sensitive and culturally-appropriate education and WASH services, child-friendly spaces and mobile health and nutrition teams. UNICEF also provided funding, technical assistance and supplies, such as vaccines, ready-to-use therapeutic food and drugs for health facilities and mobile health teams; and non-food items such as newborn, clean delivery and family kits and winter clothing for children. UNICEF also strengthened the capacities of cluster members and coordinated and advocated for flexible funding for the WASH and nutrition clusters, enabling them to reach 2 million people. The child protection and education sectors only received 13 and 17 per cent of appeal funds, respectively.
UNICEF reprogrammed funds from its core resources to ensure the delivery of essential services.