The Canadian objective for this priority is that, by 2011, Kandahar’s provincial administration and core ministries will be better able to provide basic services to key districts of Kandahar province.
As noted in previous quarterly reports, a sustainable system of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned basic services is fundamental to the future of Afghanistan and to the well-being of its people. The transition to Afghan institutions and international partners of Canadian-funded programs and projects in basic services has focused on the best ways to build on achievements, in order to ensure success going forward.
With respect to Canada’s Dahla Dam project, this quarter marked the beginning of the wet season, when water is released from the dam to fill the canal system. Following a productive season of physical work on the irrigation system last quarter, this quarter saw project activities focused on agriculture, building the capacity of farmers and the Government of Afghanistan, and physical rehabilitation work outside of the canal system. Training was also provided to ensure that Afghan officials have the knowledge and ability to maintain the dam and the irrigation canals.
At Tarnak Farms, where the Dahla Dam project has installed irrigation systems, wheat and barley crops were harvested this quarter. As part of ongoing efforts to build farmers’ knowledge and skills, a Farmers’ Field Day was held in Kandahar. Twenty-three wheat- producing farmers from three districts, together with seven Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock trainers, participated. The Field Day demonstrated the performance of different varieties of wheat and barley crops under different irrigation systems, which range from the very simple and inexpensive, to the more complex, offering a range of choices for farmers, depending on the size of their land and their income.
Canada works closely with the Government of Afghanistan, using their processes and systems to enable the delivery of education to the children of Afghanistan today and in the future. The Provincial Education Department in Kandahar is ultimately responsible for implementation, ongoing management and oversight of the education system in the province and Canada’s education project to build or rehabilitate 50 schools directly supports Afghan government plans and objectives.
In this quarter, the construction of three additional schools was completed, bringing the total of newly constructed or rehabilitated schools to 44; the six remaining schools contributing to Canada’s overall target of 50 schools are under construction. More than 50,000 students are expected to benefit from the education project. From a provincial perspective, the Afghan Ministry of Education reported an increase in enrolment of over 15 percent from 2008‑09, including a 38 percent increase in female enrolment. Canada is the main contributor to all school construction/rehabilitation implemented by the Ministry of Education in Kandahar.
Canada also continued to work closely with education authorities on improvements to the overall system, continuing with initiatives that include teacher training; the rehabilitation of the Teacher Training College that will include the first female dormitory in Kandahar; literacy classes for adults; and safety measures, such as boundary walls, to facilitate school access for girls.
As mentioned in previous reports, Canada has met its 2011 target to provide literacy training to an additional 20,000 Afghans and vocational training to an additional 1,070 Afghans respectively. To date, more than 27,000 Afghans have received literacy training and 6,500 Afghans have received vocational training.
The evolution of Canada’s Afghanistan programming toward a national focus saw the winding down of some economic growth initiatives in Kandahar province this quarter, while existing projects continued to achieve significant results. For example, the Horticulture and Export Development Project has constructed 50 raisin-drying houses, with 50 more planned. The project has also provided important training to farmers, including post-harvest production options for pomegranates.
Among the projects that came to a close in this quarter was the Kandahar Village Stabilization Project. Designed to create and promote peaceful conditions in 11 targeted villages in Dand, this Canadian-funded project was highly successful in working with local Community Development Councils to conduct small infrastructure projects, including water control structures, and providing vocational training in such fields as embroidery, tailoring, welding and livestock care.
On a national basis, Canadian funding continued to support an initiative aimed at strengthening locally owned businesses through the development of local procurement practices in place of international sourcing. Vocational training continued as well, focused on increasing access to job placement and job search assistance. Among the 180 graduates of the program to date, 90 women have been hired to produce more than 10,000 school bags, 60 men have been contracted to fabricate 1,800 reading chairs and 900 wheelbarrows, and the remaining 30 men have been employed to wire 1,800 homes for electricity.
As mentioned in previous reports, Canada achieved its target to expand the number of businesses in Kandahar and surpassed its target of enabling access to microcredit loans for 500 clients. To date, over 3,980 loans have been provided to clients.