The Canadian objective for this priority is critical to Afghan confidence in its own government's capabilities: by 2011, Canada expects that Kandahar 's provincial administration and core ministries of the Afghan government will be better able to provide basic services to key districts of Kandahar province.
Basic services involve the dependable provision of education, health care, sanitation, road infrastructure and clean water for homes and farmland; further to this, basic services build confidence in government, which in turns supports security. Nationally, the Government of Afghanistan does not yet have the necessary capacity to deliver these services, and the situation is further hampered at the provincial and district levels.
Our successes to date in supporting the provision of basic services and the promotion of job-oriented growth in Kandahar can be linked to our experience, and that of our partners, in delivering effective education and economic programs nationally, as we adapt models and partnerships that have proven successful in other provinces to the more challenging environment in the south.
Canada provides strong support to the Afghan Ministry of Education to implement Afghanistan 's National Education Strategic Plan, as a lead donor to the Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP). With respect to building, expanding or repairing 50 schools in key Kandahar districts—a Canadian signature project—two schools were completed in this quarter despite difficult security conditions. A total of 14 schools have now been built or rehabilitated, and another 28 are under construction.
Since 2001, Canada has contributed to a fund that, by 2013, will have helped build more than 1,500 formal schools nationwide. Canada has also established 3,700 community-based schools and accelerated learning centres in rural and remote areas across the country, including more than 200 in Kandahar. These schools are providing education to more than 100,000 students nationwide, the majority of whom are girls who would otherwise have no access to education. Canada also plays a major role in literacy and vocational training, with more than 23,500 individuals having completed literacy training programs and more than 4,150 individuals completing vocational training to date.
Canada's other signature project under this priority—the rehabilitation of the Dahla Dam and irrigation system—also saw progress this quarter. The project team moved to Kandahar and began preparations for the dry season (January to March) when physical work on the irrigation system can begin. Extensive consultations with Afghan government representatives and technical professionals have provided important input on the project's planning and design, greatly enhancing its likelihood of success in a highly insecure environment.
Most Afghans depend, directly or indirectly, on agriculture for survival. Our signature project to rehabilitate the Dahla Dam is critical to the implementation of Afghanistan 's new National Agriculture Development Framework in the south. By facilitating improved irrigation and agricultural services benefiting the fertile Arghandab valley, Canada is helping to restore Kandahar as Afghanistan 's agricultural heartland.
Helping Afghan farmers can also encourage the shift in product cultivation from opium poppies to other crops, such as wheat, and thereby contribute to inhibiting trade in narcotics and the corruption it manifests. In this quarter, Canada supported the distribution of wheat seeds, fertilizers and agriculture services to 7,725 Kandahar farmers in time for the winter planting season. By collaborating with the Afghan government and working with agricultural cooperatives on distribution, Canada is helping to build Afghan national capacity to deliver efficient, accountable agricultural services.
Canada also supports a number of other economic initiatives that have national-level implications. For example, Canada has contributed to the extension of microfinance loans nationally through the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan , and exceeded our 2011 loan targets in Kandahar in the previous quarter. Canada is also a strong supporter of the National Solidarity Program that provides grants for village-level development projects to address needs in improving water and sanitation, schools, roads and local energy.
In this quarter, Canada also supported the first small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) trade fair, held in Kandahar City , that enabled 3,000 participants from Kandahar , Helmand, Kabul , Herat and Jalalabad to showcase their wares, forge business links and access new marketing opportunities. The fair generated approximately US$50,000 in business deals.