Finland will continue to fund drinking water quality and sanitation projects in Afghanistan

In 2020–2021, Finland will support UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme by a total of EUR 3 million. Finland has provided funding for the programme in Afghanistan since 2010.Tee time in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The programme aims to improve the quality and availability of clean drinking water, guarantee better sanitation especially in schools, and promote good hygiene practices.

In 2018, approximately 200,000 people gained access to safe drinking water and more than half a million people got sanitation facilities through the programme.  Among the beneficiaries were 15,000 schoolchildren.Clean drinking water prevents the spread of diseases 

In Afghanistan, the majority of deaths for children under the age of five are caused by waterborne diseases. Half of diarrhoeal diseases could be prevented by handwashing. It is estimated that one out of four children dies before their fifth birthday. 

Approximately one sixth of the rural population are still without proper toilets and handwashing facilities. There is considerable regional variation within the country and between cities and rural areas. 

UNICEF aims to improve water quality for 280,000 people and to provide 630,000 people with access to sanitation by 2021 through the WASH programme. This includes appropriate water points and sanitation facilities for 100 schools and 100 health centres. 

The programme concentrates on measures that develop good hygiene practices and promote children’s – especially girls’ – access to education. The security situation complicates the programme’s implementation 

In 2020–2021, the size of UNICEF’s WASH budget is approximately USD 25 million, of which Finland’s share is EUR 3 million. In 2019, Finland’s funding for the programme was EUR 4.3 million.  In addition to Finland, the project is funded by the United States, South Korea and Germany. 

UNICEF’s current Afghanistan country programme has been prepared in cooperation with stakeholders representing different ministries, CSOs and civil society.

The greatest challenges in Afghanistan are related to the difficult security situation and insufficient funding. The lack of skilled labour and competent female workers also hampers the programme’s implementation.