Thursday, July 23, 2009

Polio fury

Afghanistan held National Immunization Days in January and March targeted 7.5 million children under 5 years of age for protection against various diseases including Polio. Although normal winter conditions blocked access to many districts with 702,000 children most of these were or will be protected later. Monitoring confirms that in the vast majority of covered districts the target of 95% coverage was achieved. Although Afghanistan is one of only four countries with significant polio problems, surveillance and treatment is generally well established. HOWEVER, the Taliban blocked access to districts with 226,000 eligible children. Nearly a quarter of a million Afghan children are denied access to routine polio protection by these fundamentalists.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Refurbished Reflections

This is an example was my BFA final project (Concordia University, 2000). I photographed shops with a view camera through their windows. Every image has at least a small reflection of the exterior. I've recently done some reprocessing and the entire exhibition is here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

World Health Organization

I've joined the World Health Organization. I am the 'Information Officer' for the Health Cluster, which brings health NGOs working in Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health together. (I think.)

It's STILL not the type of management position I'm trying to return to but it looks interesting.

As the Presidential and Provincial Council elections approach we're bracing for threatened 'complex attacks' on our compound. This means that a first vehicle born suicide bomb might smash the compound entrance and then other attackers will run in shooting before detonating their suicide vests. Our building is within a big (and now targeted) compound but we're adding a thick steel front door and windows will be bricked over. Yesterday we were told that when we hear the initial bomb (and apparently we "WILL hear it" - the Taliban won't come with less than 500Kg of explosives) we should lock our door and hide under our desks. Apparently there will be no time to rush to the bunker.

Also related to the election, we are advocating for the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan to reverse its decision to use health facilities (and schools) for polling. We are concerned that politicizing health facilities jeopardizes their neutrality and the perception and reality that they are safe places. Furthermore, if there is violence on election day the health facilities must be available, not involved.

In between jobs

I spent part of my valuable free time between jobs visiting Puli Khumri in Baghlan province.

I'd had a bad time at my previous job and I hoped that visiting one of our actual projects would make me feel better about the fifteen months I'd devoted.

This is the Women's Garden wall Puli Khumri. The wall is great and the garden (which we did not develop) is lovely. The all-important donor plaque is deteriorating which is deliciously ironic. We claimed that this project generated over 100,000 (half the town's population) of our 129,000 female beneficiaries in our second year.

(In this picture I'm wearing a genuine Schuh's Saloon T-shirt.)


I terminated at ARD on June 20 to our mutual relief. I hope I'll never work for another for-profit organization in a developing country again.