Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Action Plan for Afghanistan 2009
Under-reported by the media and thus less known to the outside world, Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis is currently defined by some of the following statistics:
- There are 235,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Afghanistan and 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the region;
- An estimated 7.4 million people (31% of the population) are food-insecure, of whom 5.8 million are in rural areas and 1.6 million in urban areas;
- 400,000 Afghans are seriously affected by natural disasters each year;
- 15,000 people die of tuberculosis each year and one woman dies every half hour from pregnancy complications;
- Two million primary school-age children are not attending school—of whom 1.3 million are girls.
Many parts of the country are inaccessible for humanitarian organisations, and the safety of humanitarian workers is also directly affected by the security situation in these areas. Since 2007, security has deteriorated significantly throughout the country, particularly in the southern and eastern regions (Kunar, Khost, Paktika) but spreading to other areas previously considered calm. Insecurity is clearly linked with the movement of insurgents into these provinces, the ongoing lack of development, and weak government institutions. Both the central and north-eastern regions, where the presence of NGO staff and programs are concentrated and where movement was previously perceived as relatively safe, have witnessed an increase in security incidents. Afghans in conflict-affected areas have increasingly faced challenges in accessing basic services, including education, healthcare, livelihoods and basic economic opportunities. Humanitarian actors have also continued to be affected by intimidation and kidnappings of national staff, which surged in April 2009.
These conflict-based humanitarian needs are deepened by the extreme chronic vulnerability of much of Afghanistan’s population. Afghanistan ranks 174th out of 178 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index. It is highly prone to natural disasters: right now, severe flooding in the north and north-east of the country have exacerbated the already difficult situation of more than 22,000 households, resulting in loss of lives and productive assets. More flooding is expected as a result of continued rainfall and snowmelt during the months of June and July 2009, at a time when most agencies will have depleted their resources in the ongoing response efforts.
Due to the severe under-funding of many planned projects, humanitarian organisations have not been able to fully address the effects of the previous two years of drought, which have affected the lives of 70% of the population in remote rural areas. Among the humanitarian needs described in the 2009 Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP), only the food aid component within the Food Security and Agriculture cluster has been almost fully funded, leaving most other clusters largely under-funded. One positive development in 2009 is the wheat harvest, which is forecast to be the best in 32 years thanks to abundant rainfall in March and April.
With the further deterioration of the security situation that has taken place this year, there is a continued need to monitor the already fragile situation for existing and emerging vulnerable groups. For these reasons, and to continue assisting the Government of Afghanistan in addressing identified gaps, the need remains for continued funding of non-food humanitarian projects in the HAP. Thus, HAP objectives defined at the beginning of the year when the plan was launched remain valid:
- Objective 1: Provide relief to conflict-affected and disaster-affected (principally drought-affected) groups and individuals, including reintegration or resettlement support for IDPs, returnees, deportees and host communities.
- Objective 2: Monitor and advocate for the protection of civilians and for the respect of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
- Objective 3: Mitigate food insecurity and treat malnutrition.
- Objective 4: Improve preparedness for disasters and disease outbreaks, and related response.
- Objective 5: Improve overall humanitarian access and response, including through strengthened humanitarian coordination and capacity at national and regional level.
The HAP, which outlines the humanitarian community’s plans for 2009, was launched at the global level on 3 February 2009 in Geneva, with an initial request of nearly US$604 millionto support 112 project proposals from 39 NGOs and eight United Nations organisations. This figure was later revised to $648 million with the inclusion of new projects. At mid-year, the requirements have been increased to nearly 666 million for 146 projects. As of now, the support provided by the international donor community to projects within the HAP amounts to $452 million (or 68% of the revised requirements). As part of the Mid-Year Review, clusters have re-prioritised HAP projects for urgent consideration by the donor community with a special emphasis on NGO projects, as many are still heavily under-funded.