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
Check against delivery
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.