Monday, February 26, 2007

A Noble Cause

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today paid tribute to Canadian corporate and grassroots donors whose generosity is bringing better health and hope for tens of thousands of children and adults in the developing world. His remarks were made at the official opening of the Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) medical aid distribution centre in Mississauga (Greater Toronto Area), Ontario.

“Consider some of the people involved in this endeavour. They include CEOs and senior executives from major corporations who normally are fierce competitors. Yet they have come together in a noble common cause. And then there are smaller donors, the small businesses, church congregations, community groups and individuals. They may not have as much to give, but the ocean of suffering in the developing world has touched their hearts, so they give what they can,” the Prime Minister said. During the last two decades, HPIC has delivered over $200 million worth of medical aid to people in 116 countries around the world.

Progress in Afghanistan:

Women in Afghanistan: Through the National Solidarity Program, created by the Government of Afghanistan to encourage rural development, women sit on Community Development Councils in some 17,000 villages throughout the country – roughly half of all Afghan villages. Five years ago women had no voice in public life. A new Canadian-led project is enabling 1,500 women to develop home-based fruit and vegetable gardens to supplement family diets and generate income.

Education: Over five million children (one-third girls) now go to school compared to 700,000 (no girls) in 2001, while 363,000 teachers have been provided with teaching material. Since 85% of women and 57% of men lack basic reading and writing skills the Government of Afghanistan has launched a literacy program. Through UNICEF, Canada is supporting programs towards basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills for 4,600 Afghans in Kandahar. Led by the Afghan Ministry of Education, Canada is helping to implement a girls’ education project which will establish up to 4,000 community-based schools, after-school learning programs and provide training for 9,000 new female school teachers. In 11 of the 34 provinces, 120,000 schoolchildren (85% are girls) are benefiting from these programs

Assistance and community-led development: Along with international partners and the Afghanistan government, our contribution has helped Afghans elect 16,000 community-led development councils. More than 22,000 community improvement projects have been completed or are in progress. The Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) supports the 470 Kandahar Community Development Councils. The Canadian PRT in Kandahar is providing assistance in a number of areas, including:

Kandahar Emergency food and non-food aid ($13.4 million) and Village medical outreach clinics; Province-wide community development projects in all 17 Kandahar Province districts ($200,000 per district); Integrated Alternative Livelihoods Programs; Kandahar City Street light project (188 lights); Four large water reservoirs supplying much needed water to the area and residents, another 55 pipe schemes of water networks have been constructed benefiting 1.3 million Afghans; 100 km of irrigation canals have been rehabilitated; A network of provincial roads and electrical grids have been repaired, resulting in 150 km of new roads and bridges, 50 km of electricity lines, 10 transformers, and 42 generators. In Kandahar, more than $12,000 in “cash for work” projects to clear irrigation canals and pick up rubble and garbage, has been provided as temporary relief for those who have had their livelihoods disrupted.

A Noble Cause

+ A new Afghan constitution has restored the rule of law and respect for the human rights of every Afghan citizen
+ Two national elections have been held (presidential and parliamentary)
+ The Afghan economy has tripled since 2001; per capita income has doubled

+ More than 7 million children have been vaccinated against polio; more than 4 million against childhood diseases
+ 2,500 villages have electricity for the first time 300,000 Afghans (72% women) have received microfinance business loans
+ The Afghan National Forces and Afghan National Police are receiving training and working alongside NATO military forces to provide security
+ Over five million children (one third girls) now go to school compared to 700,000 (no girls) in 2001
+ 4,000 houses and shelters have been rebuilt

+ 190,000 land mines have been defused and removed
+ Local governance has been strengthened through the election of 16,000 Community Development Councils in rural villages
+ 6,000 kilometres of roads have been built and repaired
+ 4.6 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan

Other News
+ Ottawa - Supreme Court Overturns Controversial Detention Measures: The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the key provisions of controversial immigration security certificates yesterday as being grossly unfair to terrorism suspects...

Patrols by the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Kandahar City area. Civil-Military Cooperation operator Warrant Officer Sean Chase speaks with teachers at a school on the outskirts of Kandahar City.

A faculty member of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Kandahar City deconstructs a brick wall behind the automotive training building at the Kandahar Technical College, used as a military training facility during the taliban regime.

A long-range patrol by the Provincial Reconstruction Team to Spin Boldak. Two soldiers from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team's Force Protection Company take a break in the Afghan National Police station at Spin Boldak.

Flying over Afghanistan.


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