Continuing on from yesterday, here is more of J's notes of what she read to us at our 50+ group luncheon this past Wednesday, concerning what has been happening in Afghanistan, militarily.
Canada has been working to build confidence and understanding between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Through talks facilitated by Canada, the 2 governments are now developing an agreement to open their 3 legal crossing points 7 days a week and are working on developing a customs-to-customs agreement. Other concrete actions include an agreement for mutual visits of immigration officials and a timeline for drafting agreements on law enforcement, countering narcotics and the movement of people. In 2010 Canada launched the Border Region Initiative enhancing border security between Afghan and Pakistani authorities through customs training.
The Canadians are building national institutions that support democratic processes. This aids in facilitating Afghan-led efforts toward political harmony. The first Afghan-led presidential and parliamentary elections since the fall of the Taliban were held in 2009 and 2010. Although flawed, the elections remained a significant achievement for a country still engaged in conflict and suffering from 30 years of strife. Canada helped to build new democratic institutions, and to bring about electoral reform, including providing election support materials and training to more than 250 female parliamentary candidates. They introduced human rights through support to the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission. Canada's broadening awareness project is to improve women's participation in elections, involving house-bound women in rural areas, and working with local broadcasters so as to target rural audiences to inform them about rules of conduct and democracy, creating a mobile dialogue to educate the people in the southern provinces, guiding mock elections in some schools and universities to relay the importance of elections and the role of voters.
One of the signature projects of the Canadians was to restore the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system. After being in ruins for decades, water is flowing again and Afghan farmers have renewed opportunities to return the area to a major centre of food production for their country and the region. Canadians support a project that distributes wheat seed to farmers. 11,000 farmers will benefit from Wheat seeds and fertilizer distribution.
Another project for the Canadians is the completion of the highway between the districts of Spin Boldak and Kandahar city. This 103 kilometre highway is one of the most important roads in Afghanistan and provides a major economic artery for all of southern Afghanistan. It is one of only 6 major cross-border links with Afghanistan's neighbours. It is the primary route for the country's imports and exports and is one of the 2 main roads between Pakistan and Afghanistan, used by the many Afghans who still have family and business relations in Pakistan. This Spin Boldak highway has improved access to districts and local markets, access to health clinics and educational facilities helping to create an effective security and stabilization of activities. National unity has been strengthened.
Today, 66% of the Afghan people have access to primary health-care services within 2 hours of walking distance of their homes. The infant mortality rate has been reduced through Canadian-funded projects which is improving the availability and the quality of emergency obstetrics care. Canada has trained over 1,450 health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers. Canada and its international partners have provided polio vaccinations to over 7 million children younger than the age of 5 contributing to the eradication of polio across Afghanistan by 2009.
Please note, J's notes do not end here. Please stay tuned! There's more to come that I'm sure will make you feel blessed.
Until next time...
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