UNICEF @ 70: A look back at UNICEF in Afghanistan
For every child, hope.
Seventy years ago UNICEF was founded in the aftermath of World War Two to bring lifesaving aid, long-term support, and hope to children whose lives and futures are put at risk by conflict, by crises, by crushing poverty, and, increasingly, by the effects of climate change.
UNICEF is one of the longest serving organizations in Afghanistan, bringing education, health, nutrition, protection, water, sanitation, and hygiene to those who are most in need since 1949.
(Left) In 1950, a doctor at the Children’s Polyclinic at Kabul examines a child. UNICEF continues to send classroom equipment to training schools and hospital equipment for maternal and child care to health centres.
(Right) In 1965, instead of attending school, this young boy is already mastering the craft of metal working. At the time, the government of Afghanistan was working to expand its educational system and make primary education free, compulsory, and universal. UNICEF provided supplies, equipment, and vehicles, as well as support for teachers’ salaries.
In 1961, the first women medical students in Afghan history attend mixed classes at Kabul University. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF provided basic health training and training aids and equipment for teaching personnel. Traditionally, women had been denied attendance by male physicians.
In 1962, a visitor peers into a microscope at a health centre where basic health education and hygiene is taught to women in the community. Afghanistan’s Rural Development programme, started by the government in 1955, included health services, nutrition education, and social welfare with particular attention focused on issues facing women and children.
In 1962, children get tested for malaria in the province of Qataghan (modern day Baghlan, Kunduz Province, and Takhar). Those who test positive receive treatment. More than 3.7 million people were protected from malaria by house-to-house spraying of mosquitoes with insecticide.
In 1976, two young girls carry brass pots full of clean and safe water to their home in Faizabad, where a new tap was installed under the water supply. UNICEF continues to assist the rural water supply programme of the Government of Afghanistan with supplies, equipment, transport, and training of personnel.
In 1992, A child is immunized at the UNICEF-assisted ICRC orthopaedic centre in Kabul in 1992. Following intensified civil conflict in mid-1992, UNICEF staff were evacuated from the Afghan capital of Kabul to neighbouring Peshawar, Pakistan, and ongoing activities were coordinated from there.
In 1992, a teacher conducts a literacy class for a group of women carpet weavers at the UNICEF-sponsored Basic Services Centre for Women in the village of Bagrami, outside Kabul. During the Civil War in the 1990’s, UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan focused on emergency interventions and child survival strategies emphasizing immunization, nutrition, and support for continuing education during the ongoing conflict.
(Left) In 1992, at the ICRC Hospital for war victims in Kabul, a man accompanies his son who is learning to walk after having a leg amputated following a landmine accident. UNICEF supported prosthesis and orthopedic services for children and women at this hospital.
(Right) In 1992, a girl practices her writing at a UNICEF-supported “drop-in” centre for street children in Kabul.
In 2000, a health worker vaccinates a toddler held by his mother at a maternal and child health clinic near the western city of Herat, capital of the province of the same name. Run by the Ministry of Public Health and the Danish NGO DAC (the Danish Afghanistan Committee), the clinic receives polio and other vaccines, as well as vitamin A capsules and other medical supplies from UNICEF.
In 2000, adolescent girls raise their hands in class at a girls’ high school in Faizabad, capital of the north-eastern province of Badakhshan —one of the only areas in the country where girls’ education was possible at the time due to ongoing conflict in the country. The school received educational materials and school supplies from UNICEF.
Following earthquakes in March 2002, villagers gather near UNICEF trucks in a field next to their destroyed village in Baghlan Province for a distribution of mattresses and other non-food items.
Girls wave ‘Back-to-School’ banners and line the entrance to the Amania high school in Kabul, where the launch celebrating the opening of school year took place on 23 March 2002. The Back-to-School campaign that year was a milestone in Afghanistan’s recent history. To support the campaign, UNICEF delivered more than 7,000 metric tonnes of educational materials and school supplies, reaching 93% of schools by opening day. Some 1.5 million girls and boys returned to school, many for the first time in six years.
In 2004, Najeeba, a health worker and vaccinator, travels uphill on a donkey to reach vaccination sites in remote villages in Faizabad, north-east Afghanistan. UNICEF worked with the Afghan Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners to vaccinate 4 million women of child-bearing age against Maternal and Neo-natal Tetanus in that year.
In 2008, a woman holds her malnourished daughter, who is waiting to be weighed, at the therapeutic feeding centre in Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan.
In 2009, children attend a primary school for girls in the north-western city of Herat. Like many schools throughout the country, the facility had been overwhelmed with children returning to classrooms after years of conflict. Over 9,000 children attended this UNICEF-supported school daily in three shifts in that year.
In 2010, a young boy molds brick at a brick kiln in the eastern province of Nangarhar. UNICEF supported Provincial Departments of Education and Youth to establish community-based schools to give children who most often work there in bonded labour an opportunity to access education.
In 2011, 12-year-old Ghezal, presents a weekly radio programme called Child’s Home Radio Magazine, funded by UNICEF in Afghanistan.The 30-minute radio programme in Dari and Pashto was started to raise awareness about the rights of children.
In 2012, UNICEF Afghanistan National Goodwill Ambassador, Raees Ahmadzai, famed cricketer and a former member of the Afghan National Team, marks the finger of a girl after immunizing her against polio during a National Immunization Day in Kabul.
In 2015, 24-year-old Najiba (left), gave birth to a healthy baby girl thanks to the supervision and care of Bibi Amina, a member of a Family Health Action group supported by UNICEF. Here, she was receiving essential postnatal care in a clinic in Bamyan province.
(Left) In 2016, 18-month-old Abdul is measured with a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) armband to determine his nutrition status at a UNICEF-supported health clinic in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan (Right) A doctor measures three-year-old Ghulam to monitor growth.
In 2016, a young boy drinks clean water from a hand pump at a UNICEF-supported school in Badakhshan, northeastern Afghanistan.