May 14, 2009 11:15 ET

Government of Canada Launches Initiative to Match Canadian Donations for Development Projects in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 14, 2009) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister for International Cooperation and Vice-Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, today launched the Afghanistan Challenge. The Government will match dollar-for-dollar individual donations made to Canadian organizations that are part of Canada's development effort in Afghanistan.

"Canadians are asking how they can help, how they can get involved," said Minister Oda. "The Afghan Challenge will give them the opportunity to engage projects that are making a real difference in the lives of Afghan, women, children and families. "The Challenge is innovative - it means Canadians can choose to support projects that are closest to their hearts and see the Government double their donation."

The first phase of the Afghanistan Challenge will run from May 14, 2009 for six months. Donations made over the Internet will be directed to projects that are improving the lives of Afghan people and are aligned with Canada's six priorities and three Signature Projects.

CARE Canada, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Rotary International and World University Service of Canada (WUSC) are the four Canadian organizations who have partnered with the federal government for this phase. The development projects led by these organizations focus on the delivery of basic services to the Afghan people such as scholarships for Afghan women, providing micro-loans to women entrepreneurs and supporting education for children. The Afghanistan Challenge is about small donations making a real difference in peoples lives.

"We are working to enhance the self-sufficiency of vulnerable Afghan women and their families," said Philip Landon, Director of Programs of World University Service of Canada. "Your contribution of $25, matched by the Government of Canada, will support the training of one woman and pay for some of the tools she needs to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation."

"This is the chance for Canadians to have a direct impact on the lives of Afghan women and their families," said Kevin McCort, President and CEO of CARE Canada. "Through the training offered by CARE and WUSC, Afghan women will empower themselves with the vital skills they need to live, learn and earn."

"Microfinance is unleashing entrepreneurship among enterprising Afghan women," said Allan Sauder, President of Mennonite Economic Development Associates. "With a $75 contribution, women living in this war-torn country can change their families' destiny through micro-loans that they can use to start and grow businesses as farmers, tailors, carpet weavers and bakers."

"Local schools are enabling millions of Afghans to attend school for the first time," said Dr. Monty Audenart, Vice President of Rotary International. "By contributing $25, you can help ensure that Afghan children will be able to receive the education they deserve."

Canadians can get involved by visiting A series of web-tools are available to help Canadians engage in their own campaigns among friends, family, fellow students, and contacts on their social networking sites. Canadians will be able to follow the results of their contributions to the Challenge on the Afghanistan Challenge website.



The people of Afghanistan had endured decades of suffering in a country that had become one of the poorest in the world. From the devastation of war to a lack of even the most basic of services such as jobs, education and water, the people of Afghanistan were without hope.

Since 2002, Canadians have been active in Afghanistan, helping to rebuild the country and in turn the lives of the men, women and children who live there. Canada is focusing on a targeted set of objectives consistent with Afghan objectives and the efforts of the international community.

The Afghanistan Challenge

In keeping with Canada's priorities on Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Challenge is an initiative that matches the funds raised by Canadian organizations, who are directly involved in the development effort in Afghanistan. By making small-scale donations over the Internet, which are matched dollar-for-dollar by their Government, Canadians are able to contribute to the development project of their choice, led and facilitated by Canadian partners.

By going online to the Afghanistan Challenge website at, Canadians can learn more about the projects that partners are working on in support of the needs of Afghans. The Challenge addresses specific areas of concern defined by Afghans in line with the Afghanistan National Development Strategy and corresponds to Canada's priority to improve the capacity of basic services to be delivered to Afghan citizens.

The first phase of the Afghanistan Challenge begins May 14, 2009 and will last for approximately six months. Pending review of the success of this first phase, a second will commence in the fall of 2009 and continue through 2011. The three projects in this phase of the pilot campaign have a goal to raise $500,000 CDN. Updates on the progress being made on each project will be provided on the Challenge Partner websites.

This phase of the Challenge initiative offers Canadians the opportunity to engage in the Afghan mission via three projects, as led by the following Challenge Partners:

- CARE Canada and WUSC (World University Service of Canada) for vocational training scholarships for women;

- MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) for microfinance loans for women; and

- Rotary International for the construction of a school.

Campaign Partners who are doing work in Afghanistan and are running a challenge project during the pilot phase are as follows:

CARE Canada ( is one of Canada's leading development and humanitarian organizations, with more than 60 years of experience serving the world's poorest communities. CARE has a skilled workforce with knowledge and experience of the special circumstances that prevail in states emerging from social and ethnic conflict.

For over 50 years, MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) ( has been helping the working poor around the world, bringing dignity and joy by helping them grow sustainable, locally owned small businesses that are not dependent on charity for survival. Through innovative international development, MEDA provides a future for families and whole communities, working to enrich, encourage and assist individuals and their families in improving their standard of living. MEDA is a world leader in international development known for creative initiatives, smart planning and proper execution, and for working closely with governments, foundations and businesses.

A leading Canadian international development agency, the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) ( is a network of individuals and post-secondary institutions. WUSC's mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training.

Rotary International ( is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. As signified by the motto "Service Above Self," Rotary's main objective is service in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Clubs are non-political, non-religious, and open to all. Leading the Rotary effort on behalf of Rotary International will be the Rotary Club of Winnipeg.

Engagement Partners committed to raising awareness about the Challenge this phase are as follows:

Passionate about developing and implementing solutions for hidden hunger, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) ( is the world's leading organization working exclusively to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the world's most vulnerable populations. In partnership with governments, the private sector and civil society organizations MI works to address this serious problem that affects one third of the world's population. Governed by an international Board of Directors, MI works in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and reaches people in more than 70 countries. With headquarters in Ottawa, Canada, MI maintains regional offices in New Delhi, India and Dakar, Senegal that manage their country offices in Asia and Africa.

The World Food Programme (WFP) ( is the world's largest humanitarian organization and United Nations' frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. WFP uses food aid to meet emergency needs and support economic and social development. Operational in more than 80 countries, it relies exclusively on donations of commodities and money. WFP works to put hunger at the centre of the international agenda, promoting policies, strategies and operations that directly benefit the hungry poor. In 2009 WFP aims to feed around 100 million people.

The Afghanistan Challenge website,, is a collaboration between the Government of Canada and partner organizations.

For further information on Canada's engagement in Afghanistan, visit:

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Michelle Coates
    Press Secretary
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    CARE Canada
    Kieran Green
    Communications Manager
    Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
    Linda Whitmore
    Communications & Media Relations Manager
    Canadian Rotary Collaboration for
    International Development (CRCID)
    Kevin Webb
    Chief Administrative Officer
    World University Service of Canada (WUSC)
    Kristin Downey
    Senior Communications and
    Development Officer