Thursday, October 23, 2014

UNICEF Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan

Statement of H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Executive Board meeting of UNICEF
On the UNICEF Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan

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Mr. President,

At the outset allow me to congratulate you on the leadership you have shown in the work of the Executive Board. I also wish to express my appreciation to Ms. Anne Venneman for her comprehensive presentation on Monday of progress and achievements set against the medium-term strategic plan. Finally I would like to thank Mr. Toole for his presentation of the new Afghanistan Draft Country Programme.

UNICEF has shown an admirable dedication to its work in Afghanistan. UNICEF has long been a primary partner of the Government of Afghanistan in ensuring progress of all MDGs relating to children, especially important to our country because 68% of the Afghan population is under 25. We continue to value our partnership with UNICEF as we fight together to provide Afghan children with better lives.
Mr. President,
The Government of Afghanistan welcomes the new draft country programme. We believe that it outlines an effective framework for partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and UNICEF in terms of aligning policies and funding with the priorities identified in our National Development Strategy. Its budgeting is well-balanced and correctly identifies priority areas. We particularly value UNICEF’s focus on integrated early childhood development, girls’ education, child education in general, and emergency preparedness and response.
Mr. President,
Our priorities are tested by recent challenges: a deterioration of the security situation, the humanitarian and food crises, and increasing poverty. The Taliban disproportionately harms the most vulnerable, particularly women and children. The insecurity they cause also impedes the achievements of MDGs 2 and 3, and obstructs access to basic services such as safe water, healthcare and education. Mother and child mortality in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world.
With respect to education, as of September 2008, around 640 schools around the country are closed, including 58% of the schools in Kandahar province, and all of the girls’ schools in parts of Farah province. In the 10 months between May 2007 and June 2008, 161 teachers and students were killed, 57 through suicide bomb attacks, and 112 schools were burned. In the winter of 2008, security deteriorated even further, and in January 2009 there was a 75% increase in the number of incidents compared to a year earlier. Deliberate attacks against female students and teachers are typically particularly barbaric, including the acid attacks last fall, and the recently alleged attacks by poison gas.
Despite these challenges, Afghans still believe that education provides the best hope for a different future. From 2002 to today we have seen an increase in the number of children in school from 1.78mil in 2002 to 6.14mil in 2008, of which 2.19mil are girls. Still, only half of school-age children are enrolled in school, and there is great disparity in enrollment between urban and rural children. Thus we commend UNICEF’s approach in focusing on community-based schools that increase access to education. We also encourage the donor community to continue building schools and, particularly, training teachers, in support of the Afghanistan National Education Plan. Since only 15.5% of women in Afghanistan are literate, it is particularly essential to train female teachers, and to raise an awareness and advocacy program for local community and religious leaders to stress the importance of educating women.
Mr. President,
In addition to education, we must strengthen the state of Afghanistan to protect our children from the Taliban, who have been identified as a group that recruits children for practices such as suicide attacks. Cooperation between UNICEF and the monitoring and reporting mechanism for children and armed conflict could ensure wider access to information regarding child recruitment. Our government is also currently preparing its first progress report on the Convention on the Rights of Children. Child labor is a particularly difficult issue in Afghanistan, where poverty and social pressure can push children to leave school into exploitive work. Our Parliament is currently discussing the ratification of Convention 182 on elimination of the most serious forms of child labor. In addition, we are revising the juvenile code. UNICEF can provide valuable assistance to our Government in all this work.
Finally, Mr. President,
The situation in Afghanistan and the region is more and more precarious. Violence in our region threatens to push more refugees into our country. UNICEF will be crucial to providing these people with urgently needed assistance. To coherently adapt to the changes of the situation, we will need coordination between the members of the UN family, the donor community, and the government of Afghanistan as we work towards improving the lives of children in Afghanistan.
I thank you.

UNFPA Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan, 2010-2013

Statement of H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Executive Board Meeting of UNDP/UNFPA
On the UNFPA Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan, 2010-2013
1 June, 2009
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Mr. President,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the board on the UNFPA Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan. I would like to thank Mrs. Horibe for her very comprehensive presentation of the country programme and the information she provided us ahead of this meeting, at the UNFPA briefing organized last week regarding Afghanistan Draft Country Programme.
Since 2002, the Government of Afghanistan and UNFPA have developed a strong partnership in the area of health, gender, and population and development. Today I would like to seize this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the Country Office of UNFPA for the effectiveness of its activities and the valuable support it has provided to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
Mr. President,
Afghanistan remains committed more than ever to achieving the MDGs through the implementation of its national priorities as identified in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. Improving the lives of the next generations of Afghans is the most viable path towards the stabilization of Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, seven years after the beginning of the reconstruction efforts, the situation remains precarious and challenging. The recent human development indicators are an alarming call for intensified and coherent actions from our development partners.
Allow me to share some of the most dramatic indicators with you :

  • The life expectancy in Afghanistan is 42.9 years,
  • Under 5 mortality rate is 191 per 1000 births
  • Adult literacy is 28 %
  • Maternal mortality rate is down from 1,600 to 800 per 100,000 births, but still among the highest in the world.
  • And poverty has increased since 2001, with the level of people living under 1$ a day moving from 33 to 42%

Moreover, the deterioration of the security situation in certain parts of Afghanistan, especially in the south and south east, have impacted on the gains made in the past years in the area of health and gender and are impeding the successful achievement of MDGs in Afghanistan.
Mr. President,
The UNFPA Country Programme for Afghanistan contains comprehensive and focused programmes, priorities and adequate financial allocation for its operational activities. The key areas of action identified by the country programme are not only relevant to the challenges facing Afghanistan in achieving MDGs 3, 4 and 5 but are also in line with the national priorities identified in our National Development Strategy.
We would like to particularly express our appreciation for the adoption of a human rights-based, gender sensitive and culturally sensitive approach undertaken while formulating the programme. This we firmly believe will increase the success of implementing the programme at a sub-national level.
In this regard we would also like to stress the importance of the approach that UNFPA has taken to provide programming at a sub-national level while carrying out its development activities in Afghanistan, and we recognize the accuracy of the criteria developed by UNFPA while targeting provinces for their programmes.
Mr. President,
We would like to stress on the importance of the population and housing census project rescheduled from 2008. It is a very important tool to provide us with reliable data that would ultimately enable us to better monitor the progress towards the achievement of our development goals. The lack of data is an obstacle to the quality of policy, programming, budgeting and monitoring of projects. We therefore encourage UNFPA to continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Central Statistics office.
In addition, the high level of maternal mortality continues to pose a serious challenge to our country. Every 30 minutes a women dies in Afghanistan from pregnancy related complications. The lack of access to health facilities in the rural areas due to the resurgence of Taliban activities and the lack of female health personnel, especially midwives, remain the principle obstacles for the improvement of maternal health in Afghanistan. We would like to encourage UNFPA to continue its activities in strengthening strategies to reduce maternal and new-born mortality in close partnership with the Ministry of Public Health.
Mr. President,
We would like to finally stress the importance of coherence at the country level between all UN development agencies and other development partners operating in Afghanistan. The coordination and consolidation of international efforts would certainly contribute to improving the impact of aid in Afghanistan.
I thank you for your attention and look forward the support from the donor community for this Country Programme.

UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan 2010-2013

Statement of H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
On the Draft Country Programme document for Afghanistan, 2010-2013
At the occasion of the Executive Board meeting of UNDP/UNFPA
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Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your leadership throughout your presidency of the Executive Board of UNDP and of UNFPA. Since it is the first time I’m taking the floor, I would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Helen Clarke for her appointment as Administrator of the UNDP and for her inspiring statement on Tuesday, which has provided us with a clear vision of UNDP’s role in the coming years. I would finally like to thank Mr. Ajay Chhibber of UNDP for his insightful presentation of the UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan values highly its partnership with UNDP and is grateful to UNDP for the operational activities it has carried out in Afghanistan since 2002 in the areas of development, stabilization, state building, and governance.

One year ago, the international community renewed its political and financial support to the stabilization efforts in Afghanistan by welcoming the launching of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The consideration of UNDP‘s new country programme for Afghanistan will help one of our most important development partners to further assist us in improving the lives of Afghans by implementing our national priorities and working towards the achievement of Afghanistan’s MDGs.

Mr. President,

The UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan for the period 2010-2013 presented to the board this year is of utmost importance for Afghanistan. Since 2002, significant progress has been achieved in Afghanistan in our path to recover from 30 years of devastating conflict, but much remains to be done. We can state today, in view of the alarming human development indicators and challenges that we are still facing, that Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture of its post-2001 development history. We need to ensure successful progression from an emergency situation to sustainable development and not regress into violence. It is therefore time for intensified action.

Allow me to stress from the beginning that we need to set up an effective framework of partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners that can align policies and funding behind the stated priorities of ANDS. This will enhance institution building and national ownership as well as further capacity development. There is also an urgent need to coordinate programmes and projects with the Government in order to focus on priorities, eliminate duplication and redundancy, and rationalize development activities to maximize cost effectiveness.

Mr. President,

The new Draft Country Programme of UNDP for Afghanistan is the product of a series of consultations held in Kabul, between the Government of Afghanistan, the donor

community, UN agencies, civil society and other relevant development partners to ensure its alignment with our national development priorities as well as those contained in the UNDAF.

The four core programmatic areas identified in the Draft Country Programme accurately reflect key areas of challenge for Afghanistan. With the upcoming elections, a deteriorating security situation, and increasing levels of poverty, Afghanistan requires support on a broad spectrum of issues. However, the Draft Country Programme document needs greater detail about planned projects, priorities, and budgeting in order to provide us with the tools to accurately monitor the effectiveness of the operational activities and their alignment with the ANDS. Donor countries can work with the government of Afghanistan and UNDP on these details. In addition, in many of these areas, particularly in peace-building and governance, it is important that the international community work in a coherent, consolidated way to support the government of Afghanistan and avoid overlap.

Mr. President,

Rising insecurity requires the international community to focus on the security sector as a central pillar in our efforts to end terrorism. However, the Afghan people differentiate between security and stability. While the military efforts undertaken by Afghan forces, the US, NATO and our other allies are becoming instruments of security, they cannot deliver stability on their own. To be stable Afghanistan must be prosperous.

Our greatest challenge in this regard remains poverty, and the UNDP is our main partner in our path to achieve MDGs and poverty eradication. Afghanistan reiterates the central importance it gives to the core development mandate of the UNDP in supporting our national efforts to address poverty. Without advances in agriculture, a mainstay of our economy, it will be difficult to achieve the target set in MDG1. We therefore encourage UNDP to focus on its core development mandate, particularly through promoting livelihoods with a focus on agriculture, rural development, food security and income generation.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan must build capacity and, with the support of UNDP, articulate development priorities, and invest in the abilities of our people, institutions, and communities to advance human development and achieve results. In this regard, we welcome the Draft Country Programme’s emphasis on national ownership.

The effective implementation of the national priorities identified in ANDS will require a strengthened partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its development partners and a coherent and integrated United Nations system response to national priorities and needs within the framework of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.

We have seen what happens when aid is not harmonized. Flows of money outside the budget are undermining our efforts at creation of credible institutions, sound public finances, and stability. The solution involves not just more aid-committed with more certainty over a multi-year period-but a better quality of aid. Better quality aid, however, can only be attained through a tighter compact between the Government and donors. Alignment with the National Development Strategy is therefore an essential principle for all donors that will serve to enhance aid effectiveness and accountability.

Mr. President,

Our aims are high. In the coming years, we believe that with enough of the right kind
of support, we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In one of the poorest and most damaged countries in the world, this challenge will test our combined will to the core, but we must succeed. The stakes have never been higher. Afghanistan can and must provide a much needed victory in the international wars against poverty and terror.

I thank you.