Press briefing by Aleem Siddique, Senior Public Information Officer, 21 Aug 2006

UNICEF curriculum and training support for Afghanistan's schools The Ministry of Education, with technical and financial support from UNICEF, has developed a new curriculum and textbooks for basic education. New textbooks for grade 1 and grade 4 pupils were developed and printed last year and textbooks for grades 2 and 5 are in the process of being distributed. A new textbook for grade 3 and 6 has been developed and will be field-tested soon.


The training of grade 1 and grade 4 teachers on using the new textbooks is currently on going and has been completed in some provinces already - Ghazni, Daikundi, Bamyan, Paktia, Paktika, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Takhar and Nuristan.
So far 9,765 grade 1 teachers and 8,893 grade 4 teachers have already been trained to use these new textbooks.
Herat and Ghor in the western region, and Zabul in Uruzgan in the southern region will be conducting the training soon.
The average cost per teacher is around US $54 for three days of training.

UNODC begins construction work on Justice Support Centres
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has just begun construction on a brand new judicial complex in Jalalabad. The Nangarhar site is part of a larger project for Justice Support Centres in selected provinces in order to support the judiciary sector at the provincial level. These centres will play a vital part in helping strengthen the rule of law and good governance in Afghanistan's provinces.
Other Support Centres will be built in Paktia, Balkh, Kunduz and Laghman province.
Construction for the Jalalabad site, which also includes equipment and furniture, will cost US $200,000. In addition 17 administration staff will receive a three-month computer literacy and office management training course, beginning in September, to work in the Judiciary Sector.
The Centres should be operational by February 2007.

Private seed enterprise opens in Bamyan
This year, for the first time, up to 35 percent of quality wheat seed in Afghanistan will be produced and sold by the private sector. Most of this seed will come from eight new private pilot enterprises which have been established across the country within the last two years with the support of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with funding from the European Commission.
One of these enterprises is the Bamyan Bastan Private Seed Enterprise, which was inaugurated by the Bamyan Governor, Dr. Habiba Sarabi, earlier this month. Dr. Sarabi thanked FAO for providing such valuable technical assistance to stimulate private sector involvement in agriculture, which will be of service and benefit to the entire farming community in the province.
More information can be found in English and Dari press releases from FAO.

Mine Action Programme busy ridding Kabul of mines and UXOs
Many of you will have probably heard several explosions over the last week in Kabul. Allow me to reassure you that the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) have been clearing mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Kabul city.
About 60 Afghans fall victim to mines each month, this is down from about 140 five years ago, but is still far too high. Almost 50 percent of all victims in 2005 were under the age of 18.
MAPA, which is coordinated by the United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA) continues to work hard to clear contaminated land across Afghanistan. So far more than 1 billion sq metres of land has been cleared since 1989 with an estimated 720 million sq metres remaining to be cleared.
Separately, a manual clearance team from the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR), an Afghan NGO, and two manual clearance teams from the Danish Demining Group (DDG), an international NGO, are working on TV hill in the city of Kabul. Fighting between mujahideen factions left the hill covered with hundreds of anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and pieces of UXO.
The clearance of TV hill is expected to end in March 2007. A portion of the hill will remain as a clearly marked minefield because destruction of the mines would cause damage to nearby residential areas.
A manual clearance team belonging to Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), an Afghan NGO, is also working in the Pol-e Charki area of Kabul. The ATC manual clearance team destroyed five anti-personnel mines last Wednesday, August 16. The Pol-e Charki clearance is expected to end in one month.

New road construction in Kunduz province
In news from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), construction of a new road linking the national highway in Kunduz province in Imam Sahib district to Shir Khan Bandar district on the Tajikistan border begins shortly. The 19 km road will connect 60 villages and benefit around 450,000 people from local communities.
The road will help reduce spoilage of fruit exports from local farms, improve access to the local hospital for patients requiring treatment and help stimulate local markets.
Built by UNOPS, this project is being funded by USAID. UNOPS plans to construct over 1000 km of new roads across Afghanistan by the end of next year (2007).

UNEP to host capacity building workshop on protection of ozone layer
Today marks the beginning of a three-day workshop on the protection of the ozone layer. The National Ozone Unit, with the support of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), will host the workshop beginning today until Wednesday, August 23 at the Safi Landmark Hotel.

A total of 35 representatives from national and provincial government, as well as 10 international participants, have been invited to see the implementation of the National Phase-out Plan of Ozone Depleting Substances for Afghanistan.
The workshop will provide the opportunity to create awareness on the use of depleting substances, their effect on the environment and the global response to meet the obligations of the Montreal protocol which Afghanistan ratified in June 2004.
Media are invited to attend. Click here to view the UNEP press release, along with workshop agenda in Dari and English.

Upcoming UNFPA events
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Public Health will be opening the first central warehouse for reproductive health commodities in Kabul on Saturday, 26 August.
The warehouse will keep reproductive health commodities in stock, enabling the Afghan Government to ensure that the commodities people count on are of good quality with a maximum shelf life and available where they are needed. The warehouse will provide products for family planning; maternal and neonatal health care; reproductive tract infections; and HIV prevention.
Proper storage and warehousing of such products will mean that women of child bearing age -- 21 percent of the total population -- and their partners will have better, faster and cheaper access to healthcare provisions.
Also, on Sunday, 27 August, the Afghan Central Statistics Office and UNFPA will hold a press conference for the official release of the data on household listing, which includes basic data by province on population, village location and major socio-economic activities.
Currently, there is no official basic population data available in Afghanistan, and the household listing exercise is the first phase of the population census, to be undertaken next year. This is the first time since 1979 that Afghanistan will be releasing official estimates on its population. The exact time and location of the press conference will be announced later this week. You can contact UNFPA for more details.

DIAG: Parwan commander surrenders weapons
Last Thursday a former commander in Parwan province voluntarily surrendered five tonnes of ammunition along with five weapons as part of the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program.
So far the DIAG process has been able to collect 24,620 weapons as well as 21,280 pieces of boxed and 218,799 pieces of unboxed ammunition.

Von: 21.8.06,

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