KABUL: Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, the European Union has contributed 2.7 million Euros to UNICEF, to support access to education for emergency-affected children and provide life-saving treatment to those affected by acute malnutrition in hard-to-reach areas in Afghanistan.
With the unprecedented scope and scale of the pandemic, Afghanistan is likely to be significantly affected due to its weak health system and limited capacity to deal with disease outbreaks. As of 21 April 2020, there are 1,031 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan across all 34 provinces, including the capital, Kabul.
“With schools closed since 14 March, over 9.5 million children in regular schools and 500,000 children in informal education will not resume their education as per the normal schedule,” says Luigi Pandolfi, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. “Also, as protocols to contain the spread are enforced, families are losing livelihoods and many are not eating enough nutritious food, with children being the hardest hit. This is a price the children of Afghanistan cannot afford.”
The Community Based Education (CBE) approach has been adopted to expand access to education in remote and rural communities. CBE is widely recognized as the most effective proven pathway to expanding education access for out of school children in Afghanistan. Various research and program evaluations demonstrate that CBE is linked to children’s increased enrolment, attendance and learning, and contributes to reduction in gender disparity in terms of access and educational achievement.
“In a country where (3.7 m) one third of school-age children in Afghanistan, 60 percent of whom girls, are not accessing education, and where 690,000 children less than five years of age are estimated to be affected by severe acute malnutrition, an 11 per cent increase from 2019, this contribution in humanitarian aid by the EU will be crucial in addressing an already dire situation,” says UNICEF Representative, Aboubacar Kampo.
With this support from the EU, UNICEF will establish 100 new Community Based Education (CBEs) centres with upgraded gender-friendly water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in Faryab province, teachers, distribution of teaching and learning materials and School Management Shuras promoting children’s education. Another 173 existing CBEs in Faryab will receive similar support, reaching a total of 8,200 children over two years.
Furthermore, to address the precarious nutritional situation, UNICEF will work with partners to reach children in areas hardest to reach, with the provision of lifesaving treatment services, through mobile teams. Some 20,180 children less than five years of age will receive life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition, in hard to reach areas, in 12 priority provinces (Herat, Ghor, Parwan, Daykundi, Bamyan, Kandahar, Helmand, Balkh, Junduz, Faryab, Nagarhar and Kunar).
This generous contribution will go a long way in helping to ensure that children and women get access to both lifesaving services.