Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA

August 18, 2011 19:10 ET

Afghan Independence Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 18, 2011) - Today, as we celebrate Afghan Independence Day, we must recognize the sacrifices and dedication of the people of Afghanistan. These are teachers, health-care workers, volunteers, business people and public officials, who courageously work to build a stable and prosperous future for Afghanistan.

Their dedication has helped to improve the quality of education, expand the availability of quality health services, provide much-needed humanitarian assistance, expand the economic opportunities available to Afghans, and build nascent democratic practices.

Canada has been at Afghanistan's side for almost a decade, helping to improve the lives of its citizens, and together we are making a difference.

Today, two thirds of the Afghan population has access to primary health care services within two hours' walking distance of their homes, up from nine percent in 2000. More than seven million children continue to receive polio vaccinations as part of Canada's signature project to eradicate polio.

Thanks to these efforts, the polio virus has been largely contained within the southern region of the country and the basis for future national health campaigns has been strengthened.

Together with the Afghan people, Canada's commitment to the Afghan education system has resulted in schools being built, teachers trained, and the establishment of a national certification and accreditation system for educators. Today, more than six million Afghan children—a third of them girls—are enrolled in school.

In the province of Kandahar, where agriculture forms the basis of the economy, Canada is helping to restore the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system, and re-establishing the area as the agricultural heartland of Afghanistan.

Our support for demining efforts helped reduce the number of landmine victims to its lowest level since 2001 and has cleared landmines from 657 square kilometres of land so that it can be put to productive use again. In order to ensure that these gains are not lost, this partnership must continue.

CIDA has renewed its commitment to the people of Afghanistan. Over the next three years, the Agency will focus its efforts on:

  • investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through education and health programming, especially for women and girls

  • advancing human rights

  • providing humanitarian assistance

As we commemorate Afghan Independence Day, Canada recognizes its enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan and our international partners as we work together to build a nation that is more secure, stable, and self-sufficient.

Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation

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