When disaster strikes, it is often children and families who bear the brunt of the consequences. Afghanistan, for example, has been experiencing an extremely dry winter. Because snowmelt is an important source of water for crops and irrigation in Afghanistan, the rates of water and food insecurity have risen. Wheat, Afghanistan’s most reliable, resilient cereal crop, has already seen a decrease in yield.
It is estimated that some 1.6 million children and 443,000 pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition across Afghanistan. These numbers are expected to increase exponentially due to the drought and escalating conflict during the summer months. Both issues result in an increasing number of internally displaced people and reduced access to humanitarian workers.
This drought has affected more than one million people in 22 provinces and is projected to affect another 2 million. Many of the affected are children. These regions already have pre-existing rates of malnutrition and thus the impact of the drought could be devastating.
The need to provide children with nutritious food and safe water for drinking as well as for hygiene and sanitation is critical.
“Preventing malnutrition is already a priority in Afghanistan,” says Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan. “We need to make sure that children and families get the access to nutritious food, safe water and health services that they need. The impact of malnutrition can last a lifetime, which is why it’s critical that we identify and treat at-risk children now.”
UNICEF Afghanistan is calling for an additional US$10 million to respond to the needs of children and their families in Afghanistan.
This assistance would:
- Provide safe water to 200,000 people
- Reach 65,000 children with essential lifesaving nutrition assistance through:
- procuring and pre-positioning essential nutrition supplies
- scaling up emergency nutrition services through fixed and mobile nutrition teams that can provide broader health services at the same time.
- strengthening community screening and referrals of malnourished children to provide treatment as quickly as possible.
- scaling up the Vitamin A supplementation programme for children in drought-affected provinces.
Support for UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan is critical to ensure the rights of women and children are protected and that their health and well being needs are met. Learn how you can take action to support UNICEF today.
For 70 years, UNICEF has led the global fight for children’s rights. Join them to have a real impact on the lives of the children of Afghanistan.
- Donate to UNICEF and help reach 500,000 children affected by drought in Afghanistan: www.unicef.org/afghanistan/take-action
- Spread the word about UNICEF’s other life-saving campaigns such as Every Child ALIVE!
- Use the #EveryChildALIVE hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to join the movement.
- Sign and share the petition! You can use this tweet to get started: Help save lives by calling on 🌎leaders to invest more in quality, affordable health care for newborns. Sign UNICEF’s petition here: http://uni.cf/EveryChildALIVE
Header photo: UNICEF Afghanistan/2016/Froutan