What We Are Doing
Renewed commitment to improve the lives of Afghanistan children 5 Dec 2014
The UK and Afghanistan co-hosted the London Conference on Afghanistan (LCA) on 4 December 2014 where 59 countries reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Afghanistan to become a secure and stable nation after drawdown of foreign military forces is completed at the end of the year. The end-of-year conference comes at a critical time, since 2014 saw both the election of a new Afghan President, as well as marking the end of the international combat mission in Afghanistan.
‘Over the last decade, Afghanistan has seen enormous development gains, particularly in health and in education. But these gains are at risk of being lost if donors and implementing agencies do not ensure that development assistance is sustained,’ says Ana Locsin, Save the Children’s Afghanistan country director.
‘Afghanistan is still very reliant on the support of foreign donors to deliver basic services across the country and it is feared that the withdrawal of foreign troops may prompt possible declines in aid that could leave the country facing tough budget constraints.’
‘It is very important that donors continue to support the Basic Package of Health Services, the main channel to deliver primary health care in Afghanistan. The nutrition component of the Basic Package of Health Services needs to be fully funded. We need to bring down malnutrition rates in the coming years and the Afghan Ministry of Health needs the support of all development partners to make some significant progress.’ adds Locsin.
Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976. Despite progress to reduce child mortality, one in ten Afghan children still die before the age of five, and skilled health personnel attend only 40% of births. Malnutrition is also a particular concern since 59% of Afghan children face stunted growth, and malnutrition reduction measures have been very slow to take effect.
From the London Conference, Save the Children asked for renewed commitment, ambition and momentum to sustain and further increase improvements in the lives of Afghan children through:
- Raising the profile of the progress made over the last decade, especially in the area of health
- Highlighting that these progress remain fragile and dependent on sustained foreign donors’ support
- Ensuring commitments from donors for sufficient, targeted, predictable and long-term funding
- Asking from the new Afghan government a renewed commitment to deliver services in a transparent and accountable way, with a focus on the poorest and most marginalised communities.
Result of the London Conference on Afghanistan 2014
In his speech, President Ashraf Ghani outlined steps he has already taken to deliver on his ambitious agenda to reform Afghanistan and deliver economic security by tackling corruption, maintaining the progress made on national security and placing women’s and civil rights at the heart of the country’s future prosperity. The UK government will be running more programs in Afghanistan and in the next 3 years, amongst other things, plans to:
- provide greater access to health services, with at least 58% of births attended by skilled attendants and 86% of health facilities staffed by at least 1 female health worker by 2018
- provide support for emergency health and nutrition programmes for more than 440,000 people a year, with a focus on girls and women.
As a build up to the conference, Save the Children conducted coordinated advocacy events in Brussels, Tokyo and Kabul as well as collaborated with other civil society members, working in Afghanistan, to highlight the needs of mothers and children on a global platform. We welcome the commitment of the Afghan and UK governments to social development and of key donors to remain engaged in Afghanistan. We need to ensure that these commitments are for the long-term, as considerable challenges remain to further reduce child mortality.
A petition for access to health care