Mr. Speaker, Canada’s approach is to help Afghans help themselves and to strengthen the presence of the national government across the country. Support focuses on Afghan national programs that ensure local ownership, accountability and community-based engagement.
The Canadian International Development Agency’s, CIDA, Afghanistan program’s assistance framework has evolved over the years. Its current priorities have been created to support those identified in the Afghan government’s interim national development strategy and have been identified by Afghanistan as key to extending the reach of the government and allowing development and economic growth to combat poverty.
CIDA’s three thematic priorities across the country, including Kandahar Province, are as follows: sustainable rural livelihoods and community-based development, improving democratic development and effective governance, and supporting the role of women and girls in society, including education. Canada’s funding is delivered through trusted and well-managed partner organizations including the World Bank, UN organizations as well as reputable international and Canadian non-governmental organizations, NGOs.
Afghanistan, along with all other least developed countries, LDC, benefits from the 2003 Government of Canada market access initiative, which allows for tariff and quota-free access for virtually all products, excluding certain dairy and poultry products, imported from LDCs. Agricultural products such as pistachios and almonds fall under the market access initiative.
Technology transfer for agriculture occurs directly and indirectly through certain projects of CIDA. CIDA has implemented a community renewal project in northeast Afghanistan through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s, AKFC, community renewal program, providing alternative livelihood options in the context of concerted anti-narcotics efforts. Most of these efforts have been related to agricultural development, including livestock development centres, animal vaccination, livestock technologies training, rangeland rehabilitation and the establishment of forestry nurseries, horticulture nurseries, trial farms and farmer schools.
Canada has also contributed to the mine action national development budget which has focused on clearing areas affected by land mines and other ordnance freeing up key arable land for agriculture. Additionally, CIDA has been involved in a number of quick impact projects that have provided seeds and fertilizers to 70,000 farmers.
Indirectly, other CIDA projects such as the national solidarity program, NSP, have supported technology transfer. The NSP gives rural Afghans a voice in their country’s development through the election of community leaders to community development councils, CDCs. The program supports the CDCs to lead their communities through processes to identify, plan, manage, and monitor their own development projects. Under NSP, more than half of the community projects involve productive infrastructure such as irrigation, roads, and village electrification, thereby promoting productivity and stimulating local economies.