Aga Khan Foundation secures UK government funding for programs in crisis-ridden Afghanistan

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The Aga Khan Foundation and the British government have partnered to deliver a number of agricultural, healthcare and livelihood projects in Afghanistan.

The £11.2million grant from UK Aid will support AKF’s efforts to help Afghans go beyond immediate humanitarian aid and help struggling communities across the country to rebuild, the organization said.

After decades of conflict and the return to power of the Taliban last year, which led to the US freezing of $3.5 billion in funds in the Afghan central bank’s reserves, Afghanistan is in the grip of a ” unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations.

A dire economic situation, high levels of poverty, natural disasters and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have left an estimated 24.4 million people – 59% of Afghanistan’s estimated population of 42 million – in need of humanitarian and protection assistance.

After a 12-day visit to the country in October, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, called for urgent action” to prevent further deterioration.

As winter approaches, a number of relief agencies have expressed concern over the plight of millions of poverty-stricken people in Afghanistan. The UN’s humanitarian response plan estimates a total of $4.4 billion in aid is needed, but its own figures say only $1.9 billion has been received by donors so far .

Kendra Schreiner, The Head of Partnerships at AKF UK said the sanctions and aid freeze, which accounted for 75% of Afghan government spending, had led to severe cuts in education funding and affected an estimated 10 million children.

These factors have left rural communities with an even greater lack of resources, access to services and ability to cope with new shocks,” Ms. Schreiner wrote. about the new program in a blog post.

“The impact on quality of life has been enormous.”

AKF says it will use the funds to fill gaps in education and health service delivery and provide livelihood support both on and off the farm, reaching more than 800,000 people in nine provinces .

Dr. Najmuddin Najm, CEO of AKF Afghanistan, said The National that while it recognized the “many immediate needs for food, water and health care”, the organization wanted to focus on “doing more today to prevent a greater humanitarian crisis tomorrow”.

“We are also focusing on things that will help communities absorb the shocks of the current situation and build their resilience – things like livelihoods and jobs, providing food and fodder for the livestock that supports families, ensuring adequate seeds, fertilizers and other inputs for farmers and of course, maintaining essential health and education services,” Dr. Najm said.

Global economic crises and concerns over Taliban funding have reduced the flow of international aid to Afghanistan.

But the AKF says its decades-long presence in the country and its “strict political neutrality” have allowed it to continue operating.

“We have always worked closely with and on behalf of the Afghan people, maintaining strict political neutrality,” Dr Najm said.

“Because we are so deeply rooted at the community level, the people themselves have ensured that we can continue to do our work.

“They make sure the authorities know that we understand local needs, that we listen and act impartially, that we provide vital services to everyone who needs them, regardless of their origin or affiliation.

“It allowed us to continue all our operations and even expand them.”

Education, a sensitive issue in a country that has effectively banned girls’ learning beyond primary school, is a major area of ​​interest for the non-governmental organization.

The AKF says it will use the UK grant money to improve access to learning opportunities for primary-aged children, including 5,000 girls and 3,000 boys, through community-based approaches. The NGO also plans to offer remedial classes to 15,000 girls and 10,000 boys.

Market gardeners selling their produce at the Ishkashim cross-border market.  Photo: Nance Ackerman

Vaccinations and maternal and child health will be the main areas of intervention within the organization’s health services, with mobile and remote services expected to reach more than 23,000 children and 35,000 women.

The AKF will also provide psychological support services to Afghans suffering from trauma.

Acknowledging ‘increased restrictions’ on women’s mobility and employment in Afghanistan, AKF says it wants to support opportunities in home-based income-generating activities and micro-enterprises, such as agriculture and processing centers led by women.

“AKF is working to build the resilience of vulnerable Afghan communities so that they are better equipped to respond to the evolving nature of this crisis,” Ms. Schreiner said..

Updated: 07 November 2022, 21:31

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