Support for Afghanistan's reconstruction is a high priority for Canada. Our development assistance is part of a coordinated whole-of-government approach addressing the unique challenges facing Afghanistan.
Reconstruction in Afghanistan is key to creating lasting security in that country, the region, and the world. It is critical that Canada support Afghan and international reconstruction efforts with long-term investments. Canada's goal is to help Afghanistan stand on its own as an independent, stable, and prosperous nation so that it never again becomes a haven for terrorism.
Before 2001, Canada's assistance was largely humanitarian aid, typically $10 million per year for basic human needs. Since the Tokyo Conference in January 2002, Afghanistan has been the single largest recipient of Canadian bilateral aid. CIDA's aid program to that country consists of reconstruction and development assistance directed at rural development and governance priorities identified by the Afghan government in its National Development Framework. CIDA supports national programs that assist the Afghan government in reaching people and communities throughout the nation.
Canada has responded to the Afghan government's appeal for long-term development investments. We renewed our commitment to Afghanistan in March 2004 with $250 million in new funds for development assistance between 2005 and 2009. That contribution has been distributed as follows: $100 million in 2005-06, $60 million in 2006-07, $50 million in 2007-08 and $40 million in 2008-09. In March 2006, CIDA reallocated an additional $40 million to Afghanistan to maintain the funding level at $100 million for 2006-07.
Most recently, on May 17 2006, Prime Minister Harper announced a further $310 million in development funding to Afghanistan. These additional funds will maintain CIDA's funding level at $100 million per year through to 2010-11.
Canada's total allocation of development assistance to Afghanistan over the 2001 to 2011 period is almost $1 billion.
Afghanistan has made remarkable strides since the fall of the Taliban with:
- a new constitution;
- successful presidential and legislative elections;
- more than four million children enrolled in school;
- reforms begun in defence, justice, and finance;
- significant progress made in demining; and
- the reintegration of nearly three million Afghan refugees.
Canada has taken a lead role in several initiatives: supporting the Afghan Government's efforts to honourably decommission the Afghan Military Forces, and to collect and store more than 12,000 heavy weapons such as artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers; providing savings and microloan services to more than 150,000 Afghan small business owners, 90 percent of them women; and assisting with landmine education, demining and the destruction of ammunition stockpiles.
Canada has also recently extended the mandate of its Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar for another 24 months from 2007 to 2009. This will help to ensure the success of multinational and Government of Afghanistan-led efforts to stabilize the Kandahar region and to build local confidence in the Government of Afghanistan's ability to meet their needs.