CARE welcomes federal government aid boost to Afghanistan
CARE Australia today welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement to increase Australia’s foreign aid to Afghanistan from $165 million to $250 million-a-year by 2015-16. The aid will help Afghanistan expand basic service delivery in health and education and improve governance and public financial management.
CARE Australia CEO Dr Julia Newton-Howes welcomed the Government’s ongoing commitment and support to Afghanistan's long-term development. ‘Over the past two decades, Afghanistan has faced extended conflicts, drought and massive population displacement, all of which have contributed to extreme poverty throughout the country,’ Dr Julia NewtonHowes said.
‘Since the signing of the Bonn Agreement on 5 December 2001, Afghanistan with the help of the international community, has taken major steps towards democracy and stability, and improving the lives of the Afghan people. ‘For example, female education has faced significant obstacles in Afghanistan, yet with Australia’s assistance, enormous gains have been made. Now 2.4 million Afghan girls are enrolled in school, compared to just 5,000 in 2001,’ Dr Newton-Howes said.
CARE has run education programs in Afghanistan for more than 15 years, with a number of projects providing educational opportunities for around 45,000 marginalised children, young people and adults in areas with no access to formal schools. CARE also runs the only non-state lower secondary education for girls program in the country. ‘However, more work is needed,’ said Dr Julia Newton-Howes. ‘Girls in secondary and higher level education face the greatest challenges. While 1.9 million Afghan girls are enrolled in primary school, this drops to just over 400,000 girls in secondary school and just over 120,000 in higher level education. ‘When educated, women are more likely to have healthy babies, to send their children to school and the health of their entire family improves. Donors and the Government of Afghanistan must give priority to keeping girls in school; the future of Afghanistan depends on it,’ she said.
Dr Newton-Howes said that non government organisations played an essential role in delivering services to Afghanistan. ‘To ensure that Australia’s aid reaches the neediest people in hard to reach places, providing aid through non government organisations is essential.’ CARE’s work in Afghanistan began in 1961. Following the Russian invasion it suspended activities from 1980 to 1989. Since then, CARE has responded to both man-made and natural disasters and its projects include food distribution, community-led reconstruction, education, micro finance, working with internally displaced people (specifically women) and maternal and child health.