January 09, 2007 14:22 ET

CIDA: Canada's New Government Invests in Afghanistan's Minefield Clearance and Community-Led Development

VALCARTIER, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 9, 2007) - The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages, today announced that Canada will provide $8.8 million dollars for demining activities in Kandahar Province and across Aghanistan as well as $1.9 million dollars to promote community-led development in Kandahar Province. The Minister made the announcement during a visit to CFB Valcartier.

"Today, Canada's New Government is investing in two more important programs that strengthen reconstruction in Afghanistan and ensure the Afghan people can live safely and prosper in a democratic and free environment," said Minister Verner. "We are investing in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOR) to open up more land for agriculture, pasture and housing. And our investment in the creation of 12 new democratically-elected Community Development Councils will lead communities to establish shelter, electricity, roads, drainage and sewers, and improve water and waste management services."

Canada's contribution will support activities undertaken by the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) across the country, including minefield survey and clearance, stockpile destruction, mine risk education, victim assistance and capacity building and co-ordination. The objective of the UNMACA and the Government of Afghanistan is to reduce by 70 percent the land area contaminated by mines and UXOR - estimated at 720 million square metres - by the end of 2010. Over the past 17 years, more than one billion square metres of land has been cleared of mines and UXOR in Afghanistan.

A portion of Canada's funding, $3.8 million dollars, will support Operation Hamkari ("hamkari" being the Dari word for assistance and partnership) in the Kandahar districts of Panjwai and Zherai. Over a 12-month period, approximately 2.9 million square metres of contaminated land will be cleared, and 27,000 Afghans in the districts, including children and youth, will be educated about the dangers of mines and UXOR. Awareness and advocacy activities will also be undertaken to ensure social opportunities and equal rights for landmine survivors and people with disabilities.

In a separate initiative, Canada will contribute $1.9 million to UN-HABITAT's activities in Kandahar City. Working with the Afghanistan Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, UN-HABITAT will establish 12 new democratically-elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). It will work with these and existing CDCs within Kandahar city to empower communities to implement their own neighbourhood development projects. Some 6,000 households will benefit from this project which seeks to rebuild neighbourhoods destroyed by the conflict in Kandahar. The project will rehabilitate local infrastructure including shelter, electricity, roads, drainage and sewers, while also improving services such as water, health and sanitation, and waste management. In addition, infrastructure upgrades will create jobs.

Today's announcement is part of Canada's total contribution of nearly $1 billion over 10 years aimed at reconstruction, reducing poverty and strengthening Afghanistan's governance, all of which are key elements in stabilizing the country and the region. For more information on Canada's programming in Afghanistan, please refer to CIDA's website at

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister for International Cooperation
    Nicole Lascelle
    Director of Communications
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534 (electronic version of document)