Winterisation in Afghanistan

Kabul / Berlin, 10. January 2020

Winter has reached Kabul. Temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius and snow are especially life-threatening for displaced persons in the informal settlements of the Afghan capital. Therefore Johanniter provides winter aid.

Thousands of people in Kabul have few resources to face the winter cold. They live together in around 50 informal settlements in a very confined space. Most people left their mostly rural homes because of violence and poverty. The number of those fleeing within Afghanistan's borders has grown to over 1.3 million. Many are drawn to cities like Kabul, where a life of poverty and a lack of opportunities awaits them. There is no infrastructure worth mentioning, such as sanitary facilities or water pipes. Jobs are hard to find and many families depend on the help of their children.

For several years, Johanniter has been helping refugee families in Kabul to meet the most urgent needs. Together with our local partner, Organization of Humanitarian Welfare (OHW), basic medical care is provided in 21 informal settlements. Eleven hand pumps and eight deep wells with solar-powered water pumps, together with a pipeline system, ensure the water supply for around 16,000 people.

Read more about our projects in Afghanistan here

Johanniter Provides Winter Aid

In winter, however, the situation worsens dramatically. The roofs of the shelters can hardly withstand the snow and people lack warm clothing, blankets or heating material. The precarious conditions are life-threatening, especially for children. That is why Johanniter and OHW starts winter aid operations in January, based on similar measures taken last winter.

In 2018, 230 families received financial aid to buy blankets, food and other basic needs. 42-year-old Tahir from the settlement of Hewaldwal was one of them. Despite his disability and spinal pain, he is responsible for his eight family members. "The roof of our house was unstable and it was getting more and more dangerous every day because of the rain and snow. We were afraid it would collapse at any time." Thanks to the financial aid equivalent of 160 Euros, the family was able to repair the roof and buy new blankets and food. This year's winter aid was extended to 500 families. "Thereby we reduce the risk that many children have to work during the winter to provide heating material or food for the family", says Ruben Baudisch, project coordinator of Johanniter.

The 11-year-old Matiullah lives with his brother, his two sisters and his widow mother in one of Kabul’s settlements. Due to their bad hygiene and the poor condition of their clothing, the children are not allowed to go to school. To heat and cook, they gather plastic waste, tires and cartons as fuel. Since there is no proper ventilation, this causes respiratory diseases. All children suffer from colds, cough and pneumonia. They only use the heater at night because the amount of fuel is not sufficient and they only have one single blanket.

The 60-year-old and disabled Ms. Hokoma lives with her 15-year old grandson Nawab in one of Kabul’s camp. Nawab is illiterate, he has a small wheelbarrow and carries luggage to earn some money. In addition to that, the household receives small charity aids from their neighborhoods. They get their food by charity from shopkeepers and since it only consists of potatoes and other vegetables, both of them suffer malnutrition. The family uses a traditional latrine, which they share with four other families. To get drinking water, Nawab has to walk one and a half hour with two barrels twice a day.

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