The Sustainable Development Goals in Afghanistan
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Afghanistan:
11 January 2022
Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan 2022
PEOPLE IN NEED 24.4M PLANNED REACH 22.1M REQUIREMENTS (US$) $4.44B OPERATIONAL PARTNERS 158 Foreword We go into 2022 with unprecedented levels of need amongst ordinary women, men and children of Afghanistan. 24.4 million people are in humanitarian need – more than half the population. Years of compounded crises and under-investment have resulted in nearly four times the number of people in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance compared to just three years ago. The country is currently facing the second drought in four years, the worst of its kind in 27 years. As a result, Afghanistan now has the highest number of people in emergency food insecurity in the world – this is a terrifying 35 per cent increase from the same time last year. More than one in two children under-five is facing acute malnutrition and will be at risk of death if immediate action is not taken. The already over-burdened health system is straining to survive numerous shocks, including due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, spikes in waterborne diseases, frustratingly persistent strains of polio and a sudden collapse in predictable financing that has kept the nationwide health infrastructure afloat. The economic crisis currently facing the country has sent prices skyrocketing, while simultaneously diminishing people’s purchasing power. People are increasingly desparate, have exhausted nearly all coping mechanisms and have resorted to taking on unmanageable debt burdens and relying on dangerous coping mechanisms to survive. The situation of women and girls is particularly dire as their rights and opportunities have become increasingly restricted. The burden the people of Afghanistan have been forced to carry is far to heavy to manage alone. Over the course of a tumultuous and unpredictable year, the humanitarian community has proven its capacity to scale-up to meet new needs, including in response to recurrent natural disasters, escalating conflict, the withdrawal of international forces and the shift in the governance structure. I am proud to say that despite the numerous challenges created by the worsening security environment and increase in overall need, humanitarian organisations have persistently proven their commitment to stay and deliver and increase overall reach. Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) remain the backbone of this response and I look forward to further investment in sustaining a vibrant and engaged NGOs and civil society sector in the year to come. In 2022, humanitarian organisations have an ambitious plan to reach 22.1 million people with life-saving multi-sectoral assistance. In order to do this, the 2022 HRP requires $4.4 billion. People’s survival depends on the 158 dedicated humanitarian organisations operating in Afghanistan receiving sufficient financial resources to deliver. The consequences of late or inadequate funding are very real. Years of funding shortfalls have increasingly required humanitarians to try to do more with less and the limited rollout of complementary development assistance and sudden cessation of predictable development assistance have all been factors in the worsening outlook for 2022. We have made historic strides in working to develop cross-sector approaches with development actors in 2021 based on both life-saving activities and support for services that address basic human needs. Jointly we have developed a common snapshot of overlapping needs and activities that recognises the multidimensional impact of the current crisis. I look forward to the implementation of this innovative and crucial cross-pillar approach in 2022. The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and InterCluster Coordination Teams (ICCT) are committed to applying a strong gender and protection lens to their work in 2022 acknowledging the disproportionate impacts of the current crisis on women, children and people with disability. Given the scale of vulnerability in Afghanistan, this effort will be guided by a range of both new and well-established technical working groups focused on gender, disability inclusion, genderbased violence (GBV), child protection, accountability to affected people (AAP) and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA). The Humanitarian Country Team will also continue to be led by advice from Afghans themselves, a crucial function that will be supported by dedicated local experts, such as the Afghan Women’s Advisory Group. Sustained, principled humanitarian access to people in need has expanded significantly over the last years, and will continue to be built upon in 2022, and our negotiations will be guided by the Joint Operating Principles (JOPS) and with support from the Humanitarian Access Group. The humanitarian community stands beside the people of Afghanistan, during what is undoubtedly one of the country’s most difficult periods. Given the sheer scale of needs, we are all called upon to remain in solidarity with ordinary Afghans and to expand efforts to reach more people with the life-saving assistance they urgently need to survive. We must act collectively and creatively in this pivotal moment to reduce suffering, rebuild lives and livelihoods and ensure the rights of the most vulnerable are upheld. I urge donors to stay engaged in the wellbeing of the people of Afghanistan, and to give early and generously to humanitarian organisations. The people of Afghanistan cannot wait and the cost of inaction is simply far too high Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov Afghanistan Humanitarian Coordinator
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20 December 2021
Parwana’s journey to recovery from severe acute malnutrition.
Malika rolls up her 4-year-old daughter’s sleeve revealing an alarmingly thin arm. Little Parwana came with her mother to the UNICEF-supported health facility at the nick of time. She has little energy, her skin is dry and wrinkled and her cheeks are hollow. She weighs just 9 kgs, while she should be twice that weight at her age and height. As the nutrition counsellor wraps the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) strip around Parwana’s thin arm - MUAC a simple measurement that allows health workers to quickly determine if a child is acutely malnourished - the diagnosis is confirmed: severe acute malnutrition. Across Afghanistan, an estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this coming year. And UNICEF warns that without urgent action, over 1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition. As soon as the nutrition counsellor diagnoses Parwana with severe acute malnutrition, her mother goes to the pharmacy to collect 28 sachets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a fortified peanut paste that helps children recover from malnutrition. UNICEF, the sole provider of RUTF in Afghanistan, has been sending hundreds of thousands lifesaving RUTF sachets all over the country. According to UNICEF’s tracking data, the number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition increased from about 30,000 children in October to 54,000 children in November. Even though children like Parwana are now in treatment, the situation is dire for millions who are at risk as families go hungry. After a dry winter, a weak harvest and drought, almost half of the people in Afghanistan do not have enough food to eat. Many don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Parwana’s mother says that since her husband lost his job, the family has struggled financially. He used to buy chickens from farms and sell them in the market, but some days there are no customers – and no money. On those days, a glass of hot tea and bread is the only sustenance the family has. As a result of prolonged hunger, Parwana’s stomach hurts. She winces and cries when she tries to eat, her mother tells us. The impact of eating the nutritious peanut paste is almost immediate. Energized by her nourishing RUTF and feeling a little stronger, Parwana begins to interact with people around her. Lifting her head, she gently smiles and squeezes the finger of a UNICEF staff-member at the clinic. The nutrition counsellor asks Malika to return to the clinic with her daughter in seven days’ time for more tests and more peanut paste. This cycle will continue until Parwaneh is healthy. Two weeks later, as Parwana comes in for another check-up, she is visibly healthier. Her cheeks are rosier, and she has moved up one centimeter in the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference test and gained a kilogram in weight. She leaves the clinic with another armful of the nourishing peanut paste. As well as distributing the life-saving RUTF sachets, UNICEF is also doubling the number of nutrition counsellors and mobile health and nutrition teams so that children in the most remote areas can be tested and treated. UNICEF is also providing supplies and funding at 1,400 nutrition sites across the country, where we will support more nurses and health workers to identify and treat children quickly. UNICEF plans to expand these services further in 2022.
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19 April 2021
“CLIMATE ACTION FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET: THE TIME IS NOW”
By António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations The science is irrefutable and globally agreed: to stop the climate crisis from becoming a permanent catastrophe, we must limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To do this, we must get to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century. Countries making up about two-thirds of the global economy have committed to do so. This is encouraging, but we urgently need every country, city, business, and financial institution to join this coalition and adopt concrete plans for transitioning to net zero. Even more urgent is for governments to match this long-term ambition with concrete actions now, as trillions of dollars are mobilized to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Revitalizing economies is our chance to re-engineer our future. The world has a strong framework for action: the Paris Agreement, in which all countries committed to set their own national climate action plans and strengthen them every five years. Over five years later, and with damning proof that if we don’t act we will destroy our planet, it is time for decisive and effective action as the United Nations convenes all countries in Glasgow in November for COP26. The new national plans must cut global greenhouse gas pollution by at least 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. Many have been presented already and set out clearer policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change and boost access to renewable energy. But so far, those plans achieve less than a 1 percent cut in emissions. This is a true red alert for people and the planet. In the months ahead, beginning with the upcoming Leaders Summit hosted by the United States, governments must dramatically step up their ambitions – particularly the biggest-emitting countries that have caused the vast bulk of the crisis. Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to get in line with the 1.5-degree goal. Immediate action to remove the dirtiest, most polluting fossil fuel from power sectors offers our world a fighting chance. Global coal use in electricity generation must fall by 80 percent below 2010 levels by 2030. This means that developed economies must commit to phase out coal by 2030; other countries must do this by 2040. There is simply no reason for any new coal plants to be built anywhere. One third of the global coal fleet is already more costly to operate than building new renewables and storage. COP26 must signal an end to coal. As the world moves toward clean air and renewable energy, it is essential that we ensure a just transition. Workers in impacted industries and the informal sector must be supported as they move jobs or reskill. We must also unleash the vast power of women and girls to drive transformation, including as equal participants in governance and decision-making. The countries that contributed least to climate change are suffering many of the worst impacts. Many small island nations will simply cease to exist if we don’t step up the response. The developed countries must deliver on their commitments to provide and mobilize $100 billion annually by: doubling current levels of climate finance; devoting half of all climate finance to adaptation; stopping the international funding of coal; and shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The G7 Summit in June offers the opportunity for the world’s wealthiest countries to step up and provide the necessary financial commitments that will ensure the success of COP26. While governments must lead, decision-makers everywhere have a vital role to play. I ask all multilateral and national development banks, by COP26, to have clear policies in place to fund the COVID recovery and the transition to resilient economies in developing countries, taking into account crippling debt levels and huge pressures on national budgets. Many local governments and private businesses have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, and have engaged in significant reviews of their business models. I urge all to set ambitious targets and policies. I encourage young people everywhere to continue to raise their voices for action to address climate change, protect biodiversity, stop humanity’s war on nature and accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Time is running out, and there is much hard work ahead, but this no time to raise the white flag. The United Nations will keep flying our blue flag of solidarity and hope. This Earth Day and over the crucial months ahead, I urge all nations and all people to rise together to this moment.
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09 January 2022
Afghanistan: Humanitarian Needs Overview (2022)
Context, Shocks/Events, and Impact of the Crisis Following 40 years of war and an already dire situation of increasing hunger, economic decline, price rises in food and other essential needs, and rising poverty over the past several years, over 2021 the people of Afghanistan faced intensified conflict, the withdrawal of international forces and then the takeover of the country by the Taliban in August. The resulting political, social and economic shocks have reverberated across the country with a massive deterioration of the humanitarian and protection situation in the 4th quarter of 2021 and the outlook for 2022 remaining profoundly uncertain. Afghanistan’s population is estimated to be 41.7m in 2021, of whom 51 per cent are men and 49 per cent are women. A staggering 47 per cent of the population are under 15 years old, giving Afghanistan one of the highest youth populations in the world. With a projected population growth rate of 2.3 per cent per annum, one of the steepest in the region, the country’s financially-dependent youth population is set to grow even further. Population growth, internal displacement, higher-than- usual rates of cross-border return are contributing to increased strain on limited resources, livelihood opportunities and basic services, as well as an increase in protection risks especially for most at risk groups. It is estimated that there are more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide and more than 5.5 million people displaced by conflict inside the country. Scope of Analysis This Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) looks at likely evolution of humanitarian needs in Afghanistan throughout 2022 with an inter-sectoral approach to the analysis that recognises the multi-dimensional nature of people’s needs across sectors. The situation beyond 2022 remains extremely uncertain with a wide- range of risks that could upset planning assumptions. These risks and potential implications to 2021 planning are outlined in the risks section of this analysis (pg 49). The political takeover by the Taliban and the possible range of geo-political responses, as well as transformed security dynamics have made much previous analysis used to anticipate needs (trends in the “fighting season”) of questionable utility. Thus, forward projections beyond 2022 would be unreliable and so have not been included in this analysis. All 2022 calculations are based on the joint planning assumptions that are outlined in the risk sections in regard to the evolution of the political and security situation, with different seasonal influences on needs throughout the year including the onset of winter, rainfall patterns, agricultural planting and harvest seasons, and others (see pg. 51 for seasonal influences on needs). Greater emphasis has been placed on the drought impact and economic fallout from the crisis in the analysis, under the assumption that large-scale conflict is likely to be a relatively smaller factor in driving needs then in previous years. This analysis will be updated on a rolling basis as conditions change. Population Groups Because of the multi-dimensional threat facing Afghanistan of economic collapse, political instability, conflict and climate, needs are deep and widespread across the country, affecting all provinces. While the broader categories of the populations of concern for 2022 will remain similar to 2021, new sub-groups of Afghanistan’s rural and urban communities whose vulnerabilities have been aggravated by the conflict, drought and economic shocks and years of lack of recovery, have been included. Internally Displaced People (only includes newly displaced due to all causes in 2022) Shock-Affected Non-Displaced People (people newly affected by floods and other natural disasters in 2022) Vulnerable People with Humanitarian Needs (including protracted IDPs and those displaced before 2022, vulnerable protracted cross border returnees, IDP returnees, people affected by economic shock and income loss) Cross-Border Returnees (newly returned in 2022) Refuges and Asylum Seekers This HNO applies protection, gender, age, disability, mental health and AAP lenses to its analysis with disaggregated data used throughout, where available. Humanitarian Conditions, Severity and People in Need The deteriorating context and an increase in population estimates (now 41.7 million people) have combined to leave a projected 24.4 million people in humanitarian need in 2022, up from 18.4 million people at the start of 202. These humanitarian needs estimates were calculated using the Joint Inter-sectoral Analysis Framework or JIAF approach, which looks holistically at the needs facing people in Afghanistan and measures the severity of these needs using a series of inter-sectoral indicators. The JIAF inter-sectoral analysis of needs revealed that there are needs in every province of the country. With extreme need in 29 out of 34 provinces and the rest in severe need, with almost all population groups of concern present in every province (except refugees who are centred in Khost and Paktika). The analysis shows that the intensification of the conflict through August 2021, a consecutive year of drought, other natural disasters, Covid-19 and the broad-based economic crisis following the collapse of the Government has tipped many people from extreme poverty into outright catastrophe. With coping mechanisms and safety nets largely exhausted – as previous HNOs have warned --the collapse of basic services and development programming since August has pushed a large number of people reliant on development assistance into crisis. An updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis shows that in the first quarter of 2022, a staggering 23 million people, or 55 per cent of the population, are expected to be in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 and 4). 8.7 million people projected to be in IPC 4 – the highest number in the world. The fundamental drivers of food insecurity in Afghanistan include widespread poverty and economic fragility, extreme weather and climatic shocks, land degradation, and decades of conflict that have limited the spread of essential public services and safety nets. According to the Global Citizen report on the Worst Countries for Gender Equality, Afghanistan is the worst place to be a woman. Afghan women and girls face unique vulnerabilities and risks as gender inequality is interwoven with the conflict dynamics and humanitarian needs. There are grave concerns about the roll-back on women’s rights and restrictions on their participation in life and society, with impositions introduced on education, right to work and freedom of movement of girls and women. Even with 55% of the country already in humanitarian need, the possibility of a further deterioration is very real. The majority of the remainder of the country requires the continuation and restoration of services addressing basic human needs to prevent them from slipping into humanitarian crisis.
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13 December 2021
One shining light: how medical supplies airlifted to Afghanistan have been used to save lives
In desperation, Rana, the junior wife in their household of 12, brought Amina to the National Infectious Diseases hospital hoping for some help. And help there was. As soon as Amina arrived, she was assessed as severely dehydrated, and treatment began. “This is the one shining light in a very dark time” said Rana as she stood by Amina’s bedside. Although none of the staff have been paid for 3 months, the doctors and nurses have been coming every day, simply because, as the hospital director, Dr Asadullah Esmat, said ‘This is our job. We are trained for that. Our staff say to us, ‘No problem, I am working for the people of Afghanistan’ In early September, just a few weeks after the change in political regime, people began arriving at the hospital with acute watery diarrhoea. Numbers climbed quickly, peaking at over 100 people per day. Many people had delayed seeking care, not certain if help would still be available, and arrived severely dehydrated, needing urgent rehydration. The hospital was already crowded with people needing advanced care for the many infectious diseases challenging the people of Afghanistan – meningitis, tuberculosis, HIV, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, COVID-19 to name a few. But it was essential to isolate and treat everyone who had acute watery diarrhoea to save lives. “We emptied out several wards, discharging those patients who were well enough, putting others in other parts of the hospital, even the corridors. We needed one female and one male isolation ward to comply with the new rules.” said Dr Esmat. WHO was able to supply critical protective equipment for health workers, such as gloves, masks and lifesaving treatment such as intravenous rehydration fluids. Since mid-August, donors have responded to WHO appeals for help and over 240 metric tonnes of medical supplies to help with all manner of health challenges, including acute watery diarrhoea have been airlifted to Afghanistan via 14 flights. Supplies are still desperately needed but more flights are coming. The supplies and the commitment of the health workers have paid off in lives saved. “Overall, we treated around 3000 patients and not one of them died. Thanks to the supplies and support we received from WHO, who came and helped in the earliest stage of the outbreak, we were able to provide the best care possible, even in these difficult circumstances,” said Professor Mohammad Murad Mamozai, the hospital’s medical director. The numbers of acute watery diarrhoea cases appear to be declining; fewer people are coming to hospital needing treatment for this, and numbers elsewhere are falling. But the outbreak did spread to 5 provinces and more than 3339 people have been infected. Work to identify every case, ensure water and sanitation measures are taken, such as chlorination of water sources, needs to be done to prevent further infection. All this depends on regular medical supplies coming into the country via WHO and other UN agencies. The other critical factor is the work being done by skilled and committed Afghan professionals, who are still turning up to work, despite still waiting to be paid. As Leda, a 26-year-old nurse working in the infectious disease hospital explained when asked how she stays motivated, “I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl. Yes, we don’t have a salary, but I love what I do.“
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