Nearly 10 million children in Afghanistan are in desperate need of life-saving help.

The decades-long conflict has brought daily suffering and caused extreme physical and psychological harm. More than 3 million children are facing acute malnutrition and need life-saving treatment. As COVID-19 continues to have a disastrous impact, your urgent support is needed now more than ever. 

Help Save Children in Afghanistan

There is not a single child in Afghanistan today that has not grown up amidst conflict.

Landlocked and mountainous, Afghanistan has suffered from such chronic conflict, dangerous security issues and political instability, plus extreme natural disasters, especially droughts, during its modern history that its economy and infrastructure are in ruins. Its people struggle with extreme poverty.

According to Save the Children research, Afghanistan is among the top 10 worst conflict-affected countries to be a child. Tragically, millions of vulnerable Afghan children are growing up in high-intensity conflict zones and at risk of grave child rights violations. As a result, many Afghan children and families are forced to flee. In fact, over half the world’s refugees come from three countries – and Afghanistan ranks second, at 2.7 million refugees.

Today, Afghanistan is in the grip of a third wave of COVID-19. Less than 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated. The pandemic has forced schools to close yet again, however, many children have little to no access to the internet or technology that would enable them to continue learning.

The Challenges for Children in Afghanistan

Today’s child in Afghanistan is growing up in the one the world’s worst countries to be a child, at risk of experiencing grave violations of children’s rights. Some 3.7 million children are out of school, 60% of whom are girls. Other challenges include a high rate of child mortality, malnutrition, forced child labor, child marriage and the recruitment of child soldiers. Families displaced by conflict and those newly returning to their communities are among Afghanistan’s most vulnerable.

  • 1 child in 16 dies before their 5th birthday, 9 times that of the U.S.
  • 38% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition
  • 42% of children are out of school, and 76% of girls (15+) struggle to read and write
  • 21% of children are engaged in child labor, instead of learning
  • 15% of people have been forced to flee conflict
  • 55% of people live in poverty
Map of Afghanistan

Our Results for Children in Afghanistan

In recent years, we’ve worked to help Afghanistan significantly reduce child deaths, malnutrition, children out of school, child marriage and teen births, thanks to supporters like you. Together, we’re changing children’s lives – including the over 602,000 children in Afghanistan we reached last year.
Ten-year-old Hemat is studying with an open book, pencil and paper.

Every child deserves to safely learn. But children in Afghanistan, like 10-year-old Hemat,* who loves going to the Save the Children-built school in his village, face many grave threats on their way there and back.

  • 376,000 children aided in crisis
  • 241,000 children educated and empowered
  • 93,000 children healthy and nourished
  • 36,000 children protected from harm
  • 187,000 children lifted from poverty

Our Work for Children in Afghanistan

Thanks to your generosity, Save the Children has been a leading charity in Afghanistan since 1976, and offering sponsorship since 2006 – aiming to ensure children can grow up healthy, educated and safe.

The targeting of nongovernmental organizations – such as the January 2018 attack on our office in Jalalabad – makes our work difficult and dangerous. So we’re bolstering our emergency preparedness and protection, ensuring systems are in place to keep our staff safe and continue our urgent work.

Together with local communities, government ministries and partners, we’re working to improve children’s physical and emotional health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, education, protection, food security and livelihoods.

We’re improving the delivery of crucial health and nutrition services to underserved communities. We’ve made great progress in leading community-based education, recognized as a key solution for out-of-school children. Protection remains central to our work, and we’re increasing the scope and quality of our programs. We reach hundreds of thousands of children through our humanitarian programs each year. And we continue to give children a voice to ensure that their rights, such as girls’ education, are guaranteed.

Here are some recent examples of our work:

A healthy start in life

  • Save the Children is training health care workers and supporting government health initiatives
  • In underserved communities, we’re supporting rural health centers and mobile health teams and raising awareness on proper health, sanitation and hygiene practices
  • To treat malnourished children, we’re operating therapeutic feeding sites and providing nutrition education
  • We recently integrated mental health support into our health and nutrition programs

The opportunity to learn

  • We’re working with the education ministry to establish community-based and accelerated classes, with the goal of returning children to school by grade 7
  • Through our community-based early childhood care and development centers, we’re supporting early cognitive development so crucial for lifelong learning
  • We’re advocating for early education, and we were instrumental in drafting the first-ever national preschool curriculum
  • We recently introduced our proven Numeracy Boost approach in multiple schools, including teacher training
  • We provided training in vision and hearing screening, as well as in adapting classrooms to better serve children with disabilities
  • We’re providing innovative information technology that allows teachers to share knowledge, experiences, challenges and best practices

Protection from harm

  • We’re working to reduce the number of children involved in harmful child labor, improving access to protective environments and supporting youth and families by offering social services and vocational training
  • We’re advocating for children’s rights and building the capacity for child protection at the government and community levels
  • Our teams are actively engaging communities in changing behaviors and attitudes so children’s rights are observed and respected
  • Through sponsorship, we collaborated with the government to develop the Child Rights in Islam handbook and engaged religious leaders to proactively promote child rights and protection
  • We welcomed the endorsement by presidential decree of the Law for the Protection of Child Rights and continue to advocate for its implementation

Emergency response

  • We’re responding directly to the unique needs of children in conflict and crisis
  • We’re helping build local capacity for humanitarian response, especially in disaster-prone areas
  • We’re providing families with cash-transfers for food purchases, cash-for-work projects, vocational training and other income-generating activities to help provide children with necessities
  • As part of an effort to mitigate the impact of disasters on children’s education, we recently developed and piloted our first-ever disaster risk reduction toolkit for schools

How You Can Help Children in Afghanistan

You can create change that lasts a lifetime for children in Afghanistan – in so many ways.

Support Save the Children’s mission. Donate to help children in Afghanistan and around the world grow up healthy, educated and safe.

Sponsor a Child
Be the hero in the life of a child. Sponsorship drives lasting change in children’s lives, families and communities.

Shop Gift Catalog
Give a meaningful gift that will help transform children’s lives and futures in Afghanistan and beyond. There’s something for everyone!

Sources: Facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as our thought leadership publications, including our Global Childhood Report 2020 and Stop the War on Children 2020 report. Other sources include CIA World Factbook and BBC Country Profiles.


Photos: Anna Pantelia / GMU / Save the Children.


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