President Karzai’s new government must deliver on schools, midwives and police say aid agencies

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 04 Nov 2009

The new Afghan government must urgently devote greater resources to building up to 6,000 new schools, training upwards of 5,000 new midwives and professionalising the police force, according to aid agencies working throughout Afghanistan.

The recommendations, written by a group of national and international non-governmental organisations including Oxfam International, Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan (CCA) and Sanayee Development Organisation (SDO), also call for reforms to governance, and highlight the importance of protection of civilians and securing the rights of women.

Mary Akrami, head of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre (AWSDC), said: “Life expectancy is still only 43 years and in many areas the rate of maternal mortality is the highest in the world. Half of all schools in Afghanistan don’t have buildings. The country needs more health workers, more teachers and better infrastructure. Afghans are desperate to see improvements in all these areas.”

Grace Ommer, head of Oxfam in Afghanistan, said: “Our recommendations are ambitious, given the increasing violence in Afghanistan. But they are not impossible. Over the last eight years Afghanistan has made significant progress, enrolling over six million children in primary school and expanding access to healthcare by 40%.”

“Positive change can happen in Afghanistan, but there must be political will in Kabul and long term support from the international community.”

The report suggests ensuring government appointments are made on merit and that human rights and criminal records are thoroughly checked. Access to equitable justice remains limited and despite modest improvements in the Afghan National Police, the force needs more reforms such as better oversight and improvements in pay.

Mirwais Wardak, Programme Director for Cooperation for Peace and Unity (CPAU) said: “Afghans overwhelmingly want their government to deliver basic services and maintain law and order. But too much waste and inefficiency and a lack of access to justice has frustrated Afghans and undermined confidence in the government.”

The organisations called for international donors to improve transparency and provide complete information to help the Afghan government track and coordinate foreign aid, which funds around 80% of its budget.

The recommendations highlighted the progress made for women since the fall of the Taliban whilst noting that many of these fragile and limited gains are in serious danger of being reversed. Oxfam said the government should secure the rights of women enshrined in the Afghan constitution, for example by fully enforcing the Elimination of Violence Against Women act, which criminalises rape and provides greater protection for female survivors of violence.

For more information contact:
In Afghanistan:
Ashley Jackson, Oxfam International,, +93 (0)700 278 657
Abdul Waheed Hamidi, Saba Media Organisation,, +93 (0)700 298 638
In Australia:

Kate Thwaites, Oxfam Australia, +61 407 515 559