Afghanistan is slowly rebuilding in the wake of several wars that ravaged the country during the past 30 years. Many of the country's poorest families live in remote rural provinces where health care and other basic essentials are scarce. To complicate matters, much of Afghanistan's infrastructure was heavily damaged during the continued warfare, cutting off communities and isolating those who need help the most.
For child-focused aid organizations like ChildFund, operating in Afghanistan presents many distinct challenges. Although the military forces of the United States, United Kingdom and other countries are scaling back their presence, the risk of attacks by insurgent groups remains high. Also, the extent of the fighting caused significant damage to Afghanistan's roads and bridges, making it difficult to access communities in the most remote and mountainous regions of the country. However, children and their families in these remote areas desperately need assistance.
Numerous initiatives have been launched in recent years to rebuild and strengthen the country's infrastructure, including the six-year Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program (IRP). A joint partnership between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the government of Afghanistan, this project began in 2006 and aimed to reconstruct the most heavily damaged roads and bridges and facilitate the transportation of people, goods and aid supplies. Although this program has since ceased operations, the United States government remains committed to improving Afghanistan's infrastructure, particularly with regard to energy production and power conservation.
Many of Afghanistan's poorest families still live without a reliable source of electricity. Although much progress has been made by various governments and aid organizations, there are still many children growing up in homes without sufficient power.
In some parts of the country, such as Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, there are wide disparities with regard to access to reliable power. The region's primary power source is a hydroelectric dam built by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, and years of poor maintenance and neglect mean that the dam only operates at approximately half capacity, leaving many local families without electricity, a problem that exacerbates the region's extreme weather, from highs in the summer above 100 degrees Fahrenheit to temperatures in the 30s and 40s in winter.
Many families in Afghanistan have endured a great deal, and there is still much work ahead of us. To help ChildFund make a difference in the lives of Afghan children and their families, please consider making a donation to our Children's Greatest Needs fund. Your support will make a tremendous difference in the lives of children in need.