Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeal for Afghanistan 2012

20 July 2012

Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan continue to mount while financial resources to respond are declining, as reflected in funding to actions coordinated in the 2012 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) and contributions to the Emergency Response Fund.  Funding shortfalls are most likely to affect internally displaced people (IDPs), chronically vulnerable people coping with the consequences of the harshest winter for 15 years, victims of sudden-onset and natural disasters, and communities exposed to communicable disease.

 In the first five months of 2012, a combination of factors has worsened humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan and further increased vulnerability of Afghans.  While the reported security incidents for the first quarter of the year showed a 40% decrease from 2011, the number of people displaced by conflict has continued to rise.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 86,360 people were displaced by conflict between January and April, representing a 5% increase compared to the same period in 2011, and a 45% increase compared to the first four months of 2010.  This increase in displacement is the highest reported for any previous four-month period in the past decade, as recorded by UNHCR. 

More than a third of Afghanistan’s population has been displaced.  Since 2002, 5.7 million Afghan refugees have returned, with mixed reintegration results.  The current figure of about 400,000 recorded IDPs is viewed as a conservative estimate, as the collection of such information is limited by access constraints.  The estimated five million documented and undocumented Afghans in Iran and Pakistan remain a population of concern as they face possible deportation back to Afghanistan, which would significantly impact the country.   

Afghan civilians continue to withstand the worst of the conflict as civilian casualties reportedly escalated in 2011.  According to the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 3,021 civilian deaths were documented in 2011, an increase of 8% from 2010 (2,790 civilian deaths) and 25% from 2009 (2,412 civilian deaths).  However, in the first quarter of 2012, the human rights bodies reported a positive trend in that the number of reported civilian casualties in Afghanistan over the first quarter of 2012 had decreased by 21% compared to the same period in 2011.  The 2011 globalreport on Children and Armed Conflict released by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon inJune 2012 highlighted that 1,756 children were killed or injured in 2011 due to the conflict in Afghanistan, amounting to an average of 4.8 children killed or injured per day.  (1,396 children were killed or injured in 2010.)

Attacks on educational personnel are a serious concern, including the killing of five and injuring of ten Department of Education staff in Paktika Province; the burning of schools in Badakshan Province; and the alleged poisoning of several hundred female and male students in Takhar, Khost and Ghazni Provinces since the beginning of 2012.  Risks for humanitarian workers also remain high: 54 incidents of direct and indirect violence on aid workers, their assets and facilities were reported in 17 provinces across the country from January to May 2012.

The 2011-2012 winter, the harshest on record over the past fifteen years in terms of temperature and severity, had a substantial impact on the poorest Afghans, including residents of informal urban settlements and those in mountainous, avalanche-prone areas of the north-east, central highlands and east.  The flooding season, which began in late February and continues until July, has affected Afghans across the country—although communities already beset by drought in northern, north-eastern, and western provinces have been most severely affected.  For these communities, who were only starting to recover from the 2011 drought, the flooding season has had a compounding impact on food security and livelihoods.  This is particularly devastating given that more than 80% of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihood.  The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded 298 natural hazard incidents from January to mid-June 2012 in 160 districts, which claimed 348 lives and damaged or destroyed an estimated 20,100 houses. 

The Health Cluster and the World Health Organization (WHO) report a sharp increase in the number of measles outbreaks in the first quarter, with some areas showing a case fatality rate of 14%—three times the international emergency threshold and affecting all age groups.  This, combined with an increase in pertussis outbreaks and the declaration of emergency status of polio, has underscored the need to ramp up countywide emergency interventions to improve health and vaccination coverage rates while reducing deaths from preventable diseases.  Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster partners continue to struggle with the inordinate number of non-functional water points in Afghanistan and are doubly challenged by the lack of available groundwater, despite the significant snowfall in the winter and rainfall in March.  Meanwhile, the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) reports that joint pre-crop assessments predict the 2012 Afghanistan wheat harvest will be ‘normal.’  However, this does not equate to food security, as availability does not guarantee accessibility. 

The five-month closure of the Pakistan border from November 2011 through March 2012 presented major access constraints and came with significant financial costs and constraints, as key supplies were denied passage while also incurring accumulated demurrages waiting in ports and other transit locations. 

Despite these and other obstacles, emergency humanitarian operations continued.  Education Cluster partners provided support to almost 100,000 schoolchildren through several types of activities, including temporary learning spaces for 64,800 children in 50 schools in three northern provinces, while the Ministry of Education and World Food Programme supported 28,500 schoolchildren and adults through Food for Education (non-CAP) activities.  Agencies provided non-food item kits to 207,980 conflict- and natural disaster-induced IDPs and returnees as well as people affected by natural disaster.  FSAC partners provided food aid to more than 1.6 million individuals, including IDPs, cross-border displaced people and communities affected by natural disasters, while 250,000 people received cash transfers and some 100,000 benefited from agriculture interventions. 

Health Cluster partners supported some 300,000 people through emergency health care services and treated around 160,000 people.  Similarly, the Nutrition Cluster expanded community-based management of acute malnutrition programmes to all health centres in provinces affected by the 2011 drought.  However, poor weather and limited accessibility in the programme areas of the north and north-east allowed for only 25% coverage (40,996) of the 167,641 children under five targeted for nutrition interventions.  WASH Cluster interventions in the north from January through May reached 100,000 people or 7% of the targeted 1.4 million beneficiaries with safe water assistance in the country.

The Protection Cluster led the development of a Protection of Civilians Strategy, emphasizing engagement with key stakeholders from the Afghan National Security Forces and furthering dialogue with the international military forces.  Following a series of emergencies in informal urban settlements and efforts by the National IDP Task Force, in March the Government agreed to update its national IDP policy in line with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and subsequently requested support from the UN Special Rapporteur on Internal Displacement.  The Child Protection in Emergency Sub-Cluster established two sub-national coordination mechanisms.  In part of the response not counted in the CAP, Mine Action Program of Afghanistan implementers cleared 259 communities through the clearance or cancellation of 1,348 minefields and 256 battle areas, and destroyed 25,190 anti-personnel mines, 996 anti-tank mines, 158 abandoned improvised explosive devices, and 698,693 explosive remnants of war between March 2011 and March 2012.

Looking forward, however, the humanitarian community is deeply concerned with the insufficiency of funds for emergency operations in 2012.  The noted reductions in both CAP and other humanitarian funding is a major concern for future aid planning and programming, as needs are expected to increase in parallel to reductions in development resources, which already started to decrease with the scheduled departures of international military forces. 

Despite a 25% reduction in the CAP from US$582 million in 2011 to $437 million in 2012, there has been a marked reduction in humanitarian funding so far this year.[1] The 2011 CAP was funded at 50% in June last year whereas this year’s appeal stands at only 31% funded.  In real terms, the reduction of actual funding levels is significant, not least as funding to non-CAP projects in 2012 also reduced.  The current total humanitarian funding in Afghanistan (both CAP and non-CAP) is $381 million compared to the 2011 total amount of $891.5 million.  The Emergency Response Fund, with a balance of $194,580, has received no funding in 2012.

The Mid-Year Review of the 2012 Afghanistan CAP maintains the four strategic objectives identified for humanitarian action this year.  However, the Humanitarian Country Team reprioritized the rankings to highlight the unmet needs of people affected by natural disasters based on the impact of the harsh winter, seasonal floods, and the continuing impact of the 2011 drought.  The total required funding for the remainder of 2012 increases to $448 million with the CAP mid-year review.  The strategic objectives are:

  • Planning for and responding to the humanitarian aid and protection needs arising from armed conflict, particularly that of the displaced; those without access to basic assistance (including those delivered by the Government); and populations where there is no humanitarian access (with other assistance or support, including from Government).
  • Preparing for and responding to the protection and humanitarian needs arising from annual and seasonal natural disasters and advocacy for progress on implementation of Hyogo Framework Priorities 1-4. 
  • Protection and initial return assistance to IDPs and refugee returnees.
  • Advocating protection support and appropriate development interventions to acutely vulnerable populations targeted by the Millennium Development Goals, whether in rural or urban areas. 

[1]All dollar signs in this document denote United States dollars.  Funding for this appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, fts@un.org), which will display its requirements and funding on the current appeals page.

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20 July 2012

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