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Archive for the ‘Aid’ Category

ICRC continues to deliver relief aids in Afghanistan amid worsening security

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Xinhua / November 11, 2008

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement release here on Tuesday that the organization continued the relief operations in war-torn Afghanistan though security constraints hampered humanitarian assistance.

“The ICRC continued to respond to the needs of people affected by the armed conflict, though security constraints still hamper humanitarian operations in many areas,” the statement said.

It noted that “hostilities continue to claim the lives of Afghans, international aid workers and foreigners and access to remote areas remains a major problem in most parts of the country.”

Meanwhile, ICRC said it sent a team of about 11 medical-health expatriates working in different sectors of Miwais hospital with their Afghan counterparts in Kandahar province where has been the hot bed of Taliban militants.

ICRC, according to the statement, continued to monitor the situation of refugee families coming from neighboring Pakistan into Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan where the international organization has already carried out two rounds of emergency material assistance distribution.

Moreover, the ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent Society are carrying out an important emergency humanitarian response in benefit of vulnerable families affected by this year’s drought-food crisis in north and north-western Afghanistan.


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November 12, 2008 at 5:36 am

Posted in Aid, Security

Infrastructure projects top priority in isolated areas

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By Homayon Khoram

Some 6000 isolated Afghan villagers will no longer be cut off
thanks to a new bridge being constructed in a remote village in north
eastern Afghanistan.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation
with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) has
funded the construction of the new bridge.

Around 1200 families live in Zangar, a village located at the
foot of high rising mountains in the Farkhar district of Takhar
province. It is a mountainous and cold area where snow never melts on
the peaks of the mountains.

The village is cut off by the Farkhar River and the only way
for villagers to access the rest of the province is by a primitive
wooden bridge that has been constructed by the villagers themselves;
but that is washed away every year by seasonal floods.

“A bridge is our village’s top priority. We are tired of
constructing the bridge every year to see it washed away again by
floods,” said Maulavi Ghulam Nabi a village elder.

The bridge is being constructed under the National Area Based Development Programme (NABDP), a UNDP-MRRD project.

“We implement small scale infrastructure projects such as
bridges, irrigation canals, health clinics and schools,” said NABDP
Programme Manager Jamie Graves.

“We have numerous projects for the north eastern region. There
are around a dozen NABDP projects that will be implemented in
Badakhshan next year,” added Jamie Graves.

Schools, irrigation canals, wells, bridges and protection walls
are among NABDP projects completed in Afghanistan’s north eastern
provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan.

There are a number of on-going NABDP projects in Baharak, Namak
Aab, Chah Aab and Farkhar districts of Takhar province. A school is
being built in Bajga village in Baghlan and will be completed in the
near future.

“I would like to encourage people to express their preferences
through the district development assemblies so we can identify where
the needs are,” concluded Jamie Graves.

The total budget for NABDP projects from February 2006 to January 2009 is US$ 164 million.

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November 1, 2008 at 3:39 am

Posted in Aid, Infrastructure

ActionAid launches cash for work programme in Northern Afghanistan

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Kabul, Afghanistan (October 22, 2008) – ActionAid together
with the European Union through its Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO)
today launched a Cash for Work Programme in Afghanistan.

The programme is being implemented in 40 of the most vulnerable
villages in Darzab and Qushtepa districts in Jawzjan Province and
Dawlatabad and Kaldar districts in Balkh province in northern

It aims to provide around 5,000 families with enough food to
cover at least half of their daily requirements throughout the harsh

Recent statistics from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and
Development (MRRD) revealed that at least 1.5 million people in 19 of
Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, mostly farming communities in the north,
have been severely affected by drought and are in need of urgent
humanitarian relief.

ActionAid recently conducted a vulnerability analysis – in
close coordination with local communities – of 150,000 people in 97
villages in 10 districts of Jawzjan and Balkh provinces.

This identified 5,376 of the most vulnerable people – including
widows, the disabled, the elderly and daily wage earners who are either
landless or who have lost their livelihood due to drought.

Of this figure, 480 extremely vulnerable individuals will
receive direct aid, 96 as site supervisors and the rest to work either
on canal cleaning, building school boundary walls or road

“Since we started our operations in 2002, the Cash for Work
Programme has provided urgent humanitarian support for those who are
suffering the most,” said ActionAid’s country director GB Adhikari.

“However, as we also use the rights-based approach in our
projects, we always emphasize the importance of using their daily
earnings to create more established and enduring livelihood

The scheme will be launched at Jawzjan and Mazar Provincial
Conference Hall during the week of 22-26 October 2008. The event also
brings together local and national government agencies as well as
international key players such as TearFund, Save the Children UK, ZOA
Refugee Agency, and German Agro Action (GAA) in working towards
alleviation of hunger in the country.

ActionAid Afghanistan has established food security networks in
different villages in the country following its April 4, 2006
membership to the International Food Security Network and plays an
active role in ActionAid’s global HungerFree campaign aimed at
influencing food security issues in local, national and international

Mr. Mudasser Hussain Siddiqui
Policy & Advocacy Manager
Contact: +93 (0) 799476991

Ms. Liny Edyawati Suharlim
Partnership Development Manager
Contact: +93 (0) 773131496

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October 23, 2008 at 3:37 am

Posted in Aid

8 mln U.S. dollars agreement inked to tackle food crisis in Afghanistan

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Xinhua / September 11, 2008

The Afghan government and the World Bank on Thursday signed an agreement under which 8 million U.S. dollars grant will be provided as part of the assisting programs to tackle food crisis in the war-torn country.

“The initiative of the agreement on The Afghanistan Food Crisis Response Project, which is signed by Afghan Finance Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady and World Bank Country Manager Mariam J. Sherman, is to enhance wheat and other cereal production by supporting small scale irrigation at the community level,” said a World Bank statement released here.

“As part of The Bank’s new Global Food Crisis Response Program, the project focuses on medium-term investments needed to increase food security over time,” it said.

“The project will support the rehabilitation of around 500 small, traditional irrigation schemes critical to the recovery of the country’s agriculture,” it said.

The statement also noted that the whole project will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development through elected Community Development Councils in the provinces most affected by drought and food shortages.

Nearly 70 percent of Afghanistan’s wheat production comes from irrigated lands, according to the Afghan finance minister.

“It is important that we give priority to the rehabilitation of irrigation systems,” Ahady said.

As a leading lending agency, the World Bank has contributed more than 1 billion U.S. dollars towards rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002, with part of them soft loan.

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September 13, 2008 at 3:21 am

Posted in Aid, Food security

Wheat loan to ease food shortage

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KABUL, 4 September 2008 (IRIN) – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and government of Pakistan are finalising an agreement involving the loan of 50,000 tonnes of wheat for pre-winter food aid operations in Afghanistan.

Once the agreement is signed, WFP will begin importing the wheat over two months, Susana Rico, WFP’s country representative, said. It will be pre-positioned in vulnerable areas where access is difficult in winter.

The loan will help WFP to remedy immediate funding delays in emergency food aid for about five million Afghans hit by high food prices and drought.

Upon receiving funds from donors WFP will pay the loan back.

Funding delays

UN agencies and the Afghan government jointly appealed on 9 July for US$404 million to deal with the food crisis resulting from high prices and drought.

The joint appeal included WFP’s request for $185 million, which it will use to procure 230,000 tonnes of food to be distributed until August 2009.

The UN has reiterated calls for “vital funding” to avert a possible crisis this winter amid donors’ “slow and insufficient response” to the joint appeal.

WFP said it had received up to 25 percent by 3 September.

Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged 50,000 tonnes of wheat, WFP said.

The American donation “is expected to arrive at port [Pakistan] six to eight weeks from now and a further two to three weeks to arrive at regional hubs in Afghanistan”, Rico said.

WFP said the 100,000 tonnes of wheat would be sufficient for its “winter pre-positioning programme”.

Government wheat procurement

The hike in food prices has prompted Pakistan to impose a ban on food exports to neighbouring Afghanistan, which relies particularly on Pakistani wheat flour.

Earlier this year Pakistan agreed to sell 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the Afghan government to ease its domestic food shortages.

“Over 12,000 tonnes of the wheat procured from Pakistan have been imported to the country and the process is ongoing,” according to a government statement on 2 September.

The imported wheat will be offered at a subsidised price, the government said.

The statement also said separate agreements signed with the Russian Federation and Ukraine would allow the country to import about 80,000 tonnes of wheat.

According to the country’s National Risk and Vulnerability Assessments, 42 percent of the Afghan population (approximately 12 million people) live below the poverty line, on 45 US cents per day or less.

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September 6, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Kajaki dam: Contentious, costly, and a failure

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The Guardian (UK)
September 4, 2008

The Kajaki dam is a monument to failed foreign dreams in Afghanistan. It was built by the Americans in the early 1950s as a cold war showcase, the sort of mega-scheme that was supposed to modernise the developing world.

But the project was contentious and costly long before the battles of the last few years between the Taliban and western forces, which saw the US bomb the site in 2002 before attempting to begin reconstruction in 2004.

Helmand’s water has always been traded between the great powers of the day. In the 1930s Germany and Japan intended to divert part of the great Helmand river which flows into the deserts of Iran and never reaches the sea. But cutting off part of Iran’s water supply, as the Taliban did briefly by shutting the dam, is controversial, and has had an environmental impact on the remarkable Sistan basin, an area of desert wetland.

After the second world war, the US government moved in, funding the Helmand project through a company based in San Francisco which insisted every part be shipped halfway round the world from the US. By 1950 the UN was warning that the scheme was too expensive and would fail. But America persisted, establishing the Helmand Valley authority, modelled on the famous Tennessee Valley authority of Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal.

Two dams were built, including the Kajaki. But they were never completed to the intended height, lacked power equipment and – most importantly – failed to bring about the planned green revolution. Only a third of the projected land was irrigated, and even that turned salty, so crops failed.

Over two decades, the Helmand project consumed 20% of Afghanistan’s national budget, as well as much US aid money. Cold war competition with the Soviet Union – which eventually took over part of the Kajaki project – saw the US fund the installation of two power turbines in the 1970s, and make space for a third.

The gap is supposed to be filled by the Chinese-made turbine eventually trucked in this week, guarded by 4,000 troops. But even that can only reach its full potential if power lines are built to the city of Kandahar, 60 miles away. That will take time, and they will be vulnerable to Taliban attacks.

Meanwhile, one of the old US turbines produces power. The other is in pieces, awaiting a refurbishment that began in 2004 but has been made impossible by insecurity.

British forces have fought, on and off, for several years to secure the site and to allow construction of the road that can send heavy equipment up the Helmand valley. If the scheme is ever completed – and the level of the dam raised to the capacity planned in the 1950s – the Kajaki will provide power and perhaps some peace to southern Afghanistan. But its planned output of 51 megawatts is small, perhaps 6% of the country’s power needs.

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September 4, 2008 at 9:07 pm

UN calls for “vital funding” to avert humanitarian crisis

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KABUL, 1 September 2008 (IRIN) – The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says donors must provide “vital funding” to enable aid agencies to avert a possible humanitarian crisis this winter.

UN agencies and the Afghan government on 9 July launched a joint appeal for US$404 million to mitigate the impact of high food prices and drought which have forced over five million people into “high risk” food insecurity, but so far donors have only pledged a small fraction of the requested funds, aid workers said.

“It’s vital to see this money comes into Afghanistan… [The funds] will enable us to ensure that current problems do not become a crisis,” Dan McNorton, a spokesman for UNAMA, told IRIN in Kabul on 31 August.

The UN call for urgent funding echoes a warning issued by Oxfam International on 30 August about a possible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

“This is a race against time, the international community needs to respond quickly before winter when conditions deteriorate. The health of one million young children and half a million women is at serious risk due to malnutrition,” Oxfam said in a statement.

Oxfam warned that if donors fail to respond quickly and sufficiently “people could be forced to sell assets or leave their homes and villages, and there could be a further deterioration of stability.”

The UN said it supported Oxfam’s calls for increased and urgent funding.

Women, children at risk

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said five million people, most of them women and children, have been affected by drought and high food prices and are in need of food aid.

“Hundreds of thousands of children under five years of age and their mothers may not be able to meet their nutritional needs, robbing them of future development opportunities,” said Susana Rico, WFP country representative.

Aid agencies are concerned that worsening food insecurity may reverse the progress made recently on maternal and infant mortality rates: “Infant, child and maternal mortality rates – already some of the world’s highest – could increase even further,” Oxfam said.

One in five children dies before his/her fifth birthday due to malnutrition and preventable and curable diseases, according to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

Afghanistan suffered one of its worst winters in three decades in 2007 when extremely cold weather, heavy snow, avalanches and lack of access to food and health services took the lives of over 1,000 people, according to statistics from the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority.

Aid agencies say relief supplies must reach vulnerable rural communities before access becomes problematic in winter.

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September 3, 2008 at 3:01 am

Posted in Aid, Food security