Making schools more resilient in Afghanistan

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 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
A primary school teacher in western Herat Province is teaching her students numbers with toys. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/World Bank

In Afghanistan, access to education has been a successful driver of development over the last seventeen years .

In 2001, one million children--almost none of them girls-- were enrolled in 3,400 schools. In 2015, there was a nine-fold increase in enrolment with more than eight million students in 16,400 schools, of whom almost 40 percent were girls.

While it's encouraging to see progress in access to education, the quality and safety of the school facilities are not as reassuring : One of every two students in Afghanistan learns in overcrowded temporary shelters or in fragile outdoor conditions. 
Given Afghanistan's vulnerability to natural disasters, it's urgent to build safer schools and rehabilitate older facilities in order to protect lives. 

If an earthquake were to hit Afghanistan on a school day, 5 million students would be affected. 

In the past, addressing infrastructure resilience has been a challenge since information regarding current and future disaster and climate risk has been extremely limited and fragmented.

Compounded by decades of conflict, this has undermined Afghanistan's ability to cope and effectively respond to natural disasters.

Thanks to its National Education Strategic Plan III (NESP), the Government has now made it a priority to provide quality education and respond to the growing demand for new and safe school facilities. 

Between 2015-2030, the plan aims to reach 100 percent enrolment by building 20,000 new schools. The World Bank and other development partners are supporting this effort through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) by incorporating risks in current and future national and Bank investments.
Making More Resilient School Facilities in Afghanistan
The number of schools without classroom buildings, highlighting the current deficit in school infrastructure and the significant increase in school construction required to meet the current NESP III target for full enrolment and provision of school buildings at all schools by 2030.
Key facts – needs, challenges and lessons learned

There is an estimated shortage of 20,000 new schools (2015-2030) that require construction to meet expected demand:  Next steps

The World Bank and other development partners are proactively supporting the Government of Afghanistan in addressing these challenges. In 2017, a national multi-hazard risk assessment and risk profiles were completed. These tools are the first of its kind in a fragile state and have already contributed to raising awareness on current and future disaster risk in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, with support from the Global Program for Safer Schools (GPSS) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and in close collaboration with the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) and the Ministry of Education, the World Bank is now conducting a disaster risk analysis for the education sector, which will provide training, recommendations on guidelines for safer (new) construction, as well as retrofitting options (if any) for existing schools to reach the minimum life-safety standards.


Julian Palma

Urban Development and Disaster Risk Management Specialist (Consultant), Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice

Fernando Ramirez Cortes

Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

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