Media contactsRachel Wolff
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Eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, the people of Afghanistan still face serious obstacles to peace and development. Widespread poverty, persistent conflict and a harsh landscape make life difficult for ordinary Afghans — especially women and girls. World Vision has worked in Afghanistan since 2001, offering food aid along with education, and providing health, income generation and agricultural programs in the western region of the country. World Vision has some 250 staff working in Afghanistan, including about 15 international staff from various countries.
More than half of Afghanistan’s 30 million people live in abject poverty and life expectancy is 46 years for men and 43 years for women. Harmful cultural practices such as early marriage, along with taboos against male physicians attending to women, have exacerbated the country’s maternal and infant mortality rates—among the very highest in the world. One in six babies dies before its first birthday, and six of every 100 mothers dies in childbirth. Afghanistan also has one of the world's highest child mortality rate, with one in four children dying before the age of five.
The UN estimates that 1.5 million girls denied an education under the Taliban have returned to formal learning since 2001. World Vision’s Food for Education program encourages school enrollment by providing families who lack adequate food with rice, lentils and oil when they send their children to school. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helps improve the nutrition of school-aged children and their families while ensuring that the next generation — particularly girls — receives an education. Other key aspects of this program include the following:
- Some 1,000 teachers trained each year and provided with supplementary food as needed;
- Ten new schools built each year, many in rural communities;
- Adult literacy classes, which include instruction on health, hygiene and landmine safety.
World Vision’s midwife training program prepares women to provide prenatal, delivery and postnatal care to pregnant women in their villages and towns. The two-year program provides students with classroom instruction as well as on-site training at the Herat Regional Hospital in western Afghanistan. Since 2004, 142 women have graduated from the program, with an additional 60 students currently enrolled.
As part of their training, students also learn to feed and care for premature infants in the hospital's neonatal unit, also funded by World Vision. The neonatal unit, the only one in western Afghanistan, is saving and caring for 20 infants each week.
World Vision’s Child Survival project aims to improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes for approximately 300,000 women and children. The project will improve both quality
to essential maternal/newborn services in the community, including training community health workers and midwives in safe, community-based birthing and newborn care.
To improve management of maternal/newborn emergencies in hard-to-reach villages, mobile phones will be provided
to community health workers and midwives for Tele-Emergency Assistance (TEA). TEA will allow community health workers and midwives to directly communicate with a 24-hour on-call senior midwife and/or obstetrician at the Maternity Unit of the Herat Regional Hospital.
Because of its harsh climate, Ghor Province in the west is heavily dependent on food from outside the region. Nearly 60 percent of households in Ghor consume no vegetables at all. However, farmers indicated that they would produce a greater variety of healthy foods if they had the knowledge, ability and training to do so. World Vision’s health and livelihood initiative in Ghor, funded by USAID, aims to increase the production of fruits and vegetables in addition to staple grains to reduce food insecurity and improve household resiliency. This community-based project integrates health, nutrition and agriculture and empowers communities to promote preventive nutrition and health practices and sustainable agricultural livelihoods.
Continuing insecurity and violence threaten Afghanistan’s development efforts. Attacks and intimidation campaigns against schools, in particular, have threatened the progress girls and women are making in gaining an education. Violence has also restricted the work of aid agencies like World Vision in some areas, limiting the assistance local residents can receive.World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world’s poor—regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.