Although progress has been made towards establishing peace in Afghanistan, the security and political situation remains volatile. The country is in a period of transition with the sequential withdrawal of international military personnel and the handover to Afghanistan's security forces. In addition, the country is periodically rocked by extreme weather and natural disasters—in 2012, Afghanistan experienced the harshest winter in 50 years.
Concern has worked in Afghanistan since 1998 and currently implements programs in emergency response, health, education, livelihoods, and HIV and AIDS.
EMERGENCY - Assisting over 5,000 affected households and 30,000 people in times of crisis
The impact of climate change is undermining the already precarious livelihoods of the rural communities in Afghanistan. Those who suffer most acutely are the poor and dispossessed. During 2012, Concern remained responsive to the needs of people affected by natural disasters, including floods, droughts, landslides, and avalanches. Concern responded with cash-for-work activities to improve access to alternative income, provide asset protection, improve agricultural systems, and rehabilitate small-scale infrastructure. Land conservation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities were integral to the responses to ensure long-term coping strategies. In November 2012, Concern initiated a two-month emergency intervention to prepare communities for winter and the spring thaw, when melting snow can trigger flash floods and landslides. This response aimed to prevent and reduce the risk of disasters facing the vulnerable communities in the target areas, where Concern had responded to floods and landslides in April 2012. The overall outcome has been positive, with households having an increased awareness of disaster mitigation and response as well as improved coping mechanisms and resilience during adverse conditions.
HEALTH - Taking an integrated approach to improved nutrition and better sanitation
Concern’s Social Empowerment for Environmental Development, Livelihood, Income Generation, and Health Services program focused on boosting both income and nutrition for 38,700 people, of whom 17,700 were female. Health and hygiene promotion on topics such as using clean water for washing and cooking were also integral to the program. Together with the provision of safe water taps and latrines, the awareness-raising campaigns have been instrumental in reducing sickness, especially among children. Small-scale irrigation systems have been developed and committees put in place for better water management in Badakshan and Takhar Provinces. In relation to female health, there is ongoing, active engagement with men on women’s rights in the areas of access to health services and maternal care.
EDUCATION - Promoting quality and equality in education for over 20,700 students and their communities
Poor school facilities, together with isolated locations, underdeveloped and undervalued teachers, and historically low attendance rates, create a downward spiral of poor quality education. Inadequate building infrastructure is particularly detrimental, particularly for girls, whose attendance may be made culturally impossible without private sanitary facilities. Thegoal of the Rural Education Support Program is to improve the quality of universal education and to eliminate gender disparity in primary schools in the targeted vulnerable communities, benefiting 2,000 people directly and 20,700 indirectly. Although the Kabul Program scaled down during 2012, activities focused on three capacity-building centers teaching English and computer literacy to youth groups.
LIVELIHOODS - Supporting farmers and increasing market access for greater income opportunities.
Much of Concern’s programming in Afghanistan focuses on fostering economic security for poor families. To do this, Concern provided support to poor farmers through the provision of seeds and tools, improved agricultural production, improved access to markets, greater access to credit, and self-help groups for women. In Takhar Province, more than 43,300 farmers successfully implemented watershed management and soil and water conservation techniques. Additional training opportunities were provided to 8,527 farmers and other community members.
AFGHANISTAN AT A GLACE
Area: 652,000 sq km
Population: 33.4 million
GDP per capita: $1,083
Infant mortality (per thousand births): 103
Life expectancy: 49.1
Living with HIV and AIDS: <0.1 percent
Literacy rate: n/a
Without access to safe water: 50 percent
Human development rank: 175 (out of 187)
Global hunger rank/index: n/a