Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 172 out of 187 in the Human Development Index. While its overall security situation continued to deteriorate over the course of 2011, Concern achieved measurable successes in its operational areas.
Concern's work in Afghanistan
Concern, working in Afghanistan since 1998, continued its programs in livelihoods, water and environmental health, emergency relief, and education.
LIVELIHOODS—Building infrastructure for 32,000 of the poorest people
Concern’s livelihoods program focuses on natural resource and watershed management, repair and rehabilitation of irrigation systems, access to markets, and on women’s empowerment. In 2011, Concern completed 63 infrastructure projects in villages across Rustaq district in Takhar province and Raghustan and Kohistan in Badakhshan, which are in extremely remote areas of the country. These areas were previously inaccessible, except by horse, donkey, or on foot. The projects benefited 32,154 people. Road construction projects connect villages to transport routes that allow them to reach markets, clinics, and educational facilities.
Also in 2011, through Concern’s ongoing commitment to women’s empowerment, our AWARE program established women’s self-help groups (SHGs). SHGs allow members to save together, lend their savings to each other with interest, and share the profits. Women also receive training in bookkeeping, accounting, organizational management in addition to exposure visits, and workshops to share lessons and experience. These trainings also support women in improving their literacy, while support in basic math and organization management teaches them skills that can improve their management of household and business finances.
Concern directly supports 74 SHGs with over 1,443 members and total savings of $20,690. Through four local partners, Concern supports an additional 210 SHGs with 3,232 female members.
HEALTH—Improving the health of 33,000 people by improving access to safe drinking water
Concern implemented a total of 58 water supply projects in 2011 with 33,000 estimated bene?ciaries receiving safe drinking water. This includes 2,100 women benefiting from health, hygiene and HIV and AIDS awareness training in all program areas. Four-hundred women also received health and hygiene kits, including soap, toothbrushes, towels, nail clippers, and sandals. Under all programs, 28,086 people have received health and hygiene messages from community health activists. Concern establishes water management committees and trains community members as technicians to manage water supply systems after handover.
EMERGENCY—Assisting 3,700 households in need
Low rain and snowfall in 2010/2011 has led to severe drought across the north, northeast, and west of Afghanistan. Takhar and Badakhshan both suffered, losing an estimated 80 percent of crops on rain-fed land during the second harvest. Concern’s drought response is improving agriculture practice and implementing activities such as fodder distribution, vegetable and wheat seed distribution, farm ponds, orchard development, rehabilitation of agricultural land, and training on improved agricultural practices. Overall 3,962 households have so far benefited from the emergency response program.
EDUCATION—Helping to improve literacy of 1,000 women
Concern’s education programs, which also include adult literacy training, reached more than 1,000 women through the creation of women’s self-help groups (SHGs). Of the 1,443 female SHG members, 1,035 are presently engaged in literacy courses. These courses are in addition to the bookkeeping, business, and leadership trainings that members have previously received. For SHG bookkeeping and business planning classes, members must be literate to record details of business plans, loans made, and to record the minutes of meeting.
Afghanistan at a glance
Area: 652,000 sq km
Population: 32.4 million
GDP per capita: $1,200
Infant mortality (per thousand births): 199
Life expectancy: 48.7
Living with HIV/AIDS: n/a
Literacy rate: n/a
Without access to safe water: n/a
Human development rank: 172 (out of 187)
Global hunger rank/index: n/a