February 12, 2010

I would like to take the opportunity in this week’s article to update you on some of the reconstruction and development efforts that Canada has been a part of in Afghanistan. 

In January 2006, Canada along with Afghan President Karzai and 60 other countries signed the Afghanistan Compact, an international agreement that laid out the reconstruction plans for the country. Canadian contributions are helping to meet the objectives set out in the agreement and to help ordinary Afghans improve their lives.

Reconstruction in Kandahar began in November 2006, with the construction of several large water reservoirs and five kilometres of water distribution networks to give families in the region much-needed water.  Our funds and personnel are rehabilitating 100 kilometres of irrigation canals, repairing bridges and 170 kilometres of roads, 69 kilometres of electricity lines and 42 diesel generators.

Afghanistan has been at war since 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded the country.  One of the long-term legacies of that conflict is that the country side is strewn with landmines. 

Canada is working with the United Nations to fund both national and provincial-level mine clearance operations and victim assistance.  This helps open up farm fields to cultivation and makes towns and villages safer.  Our Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (a team of military & civilian aid workers) are conducting mine and ordnance awareness training for children in the region, helping children recognize the danger of landmines and unexploded shells in their neighbourhood.

Our funding is helping implement a girls’ education project that will establish 4,000 community-based schools and after-school learning programs, and provide training for 9,000 new female schoolteachers.  This effort will benefit 120,000 school children.  We are also funding women’s literacy and maternal health programs.  The UNICEF literacy programs that Canada supports have taught basic reading, writing and arithmetic to 4,600 Kandaharis 80 per cent of whom are women.

Canada has also provided polio vaccination funding to the World Health Organization and UNICEF for one-quarter of the national Afghanistan program. Almost all of the 350,000 children in Kandahar province have been vaccinated against this disease.

Canada’s soldiers, diplomats, development aid workers and money are doing good work on all our behalf in Afghanistan.  It is good news that sometimes does not get reported enough: That our country’s efforts and sacrifices in Afghanistan do have a positive and real impact on peoples’ lives.

Until next time. . .

Earl Dreeshen, MP
Red Deer