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Canada's Engagement in Afghanistan

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Development Projects

Canada is among the world's top donors to Afghanistan, which is our largest bilateral aid recipient. Canada supports a wide array of development projects in Afghanistan, including three signature projects that represent large-scale, significant contributions to rebuilding the country. The signature projects are on-going, as well as other development projects in the areas of Basic Services, Humanitarian Assistance, and National Institutions.

Canada supports three signature projects in Afghanistan, two focused in Kandahar (rehabilitating the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system, and building and repairing 50 schools in Kandahar province) and a third project with a national emphasis (eradicating polio).

  • Colapse Dahla Dam and irrigation system
    Current phase: 2008-2011
    Project budget: $50 million

    Project description:

    Repairing the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system is one of Canada’s three signature projects in Afghanistan. Through this project, 80 percent of Kandaharis who live along the Arghandab irrigation system will have access to a secure water supply to stimulate agricultural production. Having this project underway is an important step in the economic development of Kandahar province and Afghanistan.

    For centuries, the Arghandab Valley, where the dam is located, has been known as the breadbasket of Afghanistan. The region has the potential to be the most productive agricultural area in the country, with the greatest scope for creating food surpluses for processing and export.

    The Dahla Dam and irrigation system is Afghanistan’s second largest dam. Built in the 1950s, years of disrepair and war have left it functioning at a reduced capacity.

    Repairs include replacing generators, repairing water valves, and fixing gates to improve control over the flow of water from the Arghandab River into the 40-kilometre network of canals. Downstream, a major desilting of the canals will ensure that the increased water flow will reach individual Kandaharis. As for the dam itself, sediment in Afghanistan’s dusty climate has collected in the bottom of the reservoir. This has further reduced the capacity of the reservoir by up to 30 percent.

    The repair of the Dahla Dam and irrigation system will:

    • Provide a secure irrigation water supply to the majority of the Kandahari population.
    • Generate thousands of seasonal jobs.
    • Foster agriculture by providing farmers with irrigated land.

    The project is managed by a joint venture of experienced Canadian firms: SNC-Lavalin and Hydrosult.

    Progress to date:

    The Dahla Dam and Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation Project has achieved the following significant results to date:

    • A new reinforced-concrete girder bridge, needed to carry dam-building machinery, has replaced a rickety, one-lane suspension bridge.
    • Large vehicles and heavy equipment needed to repair the dam now have access to a widened and paved road, providing easier and safer access to the remote dam site and irrigation works downstream.
    • The surveying and calculations required to remove small rocks and mud, replace soil that had been removed during excavation, and reshape 17 kilometres of the Main and Baba-Wali Canals in northern Arghandab have been completed.
    • To date, 137,500 cubic meters of silt has been removed from the main and sub canals, this is equivalent to approximately 7,200 dump trucks worth.
    • The reshaping and removal of sediment from the Mandisar sub-canal has been completed, alongside the rehabilitation of the main drainage ditch’s infrastructure.
    • Two hydraulic gates in the Baba-Wali canal have been installed, and two more are being manufactured.
    • As of June 30, 2010, over 2,012 jobs have been created in the rehabilitation of the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system. Since then, many more have been created in the construction sector.
  • Expand - Education Education

    Through Canada’s Education signature project, Canada is building, expanding and repairing 50 schools in targeted districts in Kandahar province. Learn more

  • Expand - Polio eradication Polio eradication

    Through the Polio Eradication signature project, more than seven million children across Afghanistan receive polio vaccinations, including 400,000 in Kandahar province. Polio vaccination campaigns occur regularly throughout Afghanistan at a national level, to ensure that polio is eradicated from the country, but also at a provincial level in areas where there is a higher rate of incidence of the disease. Learn more


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