Carr Commits To Afghan Aid
9 July 2012 at 3:32 pm
Australian Not for Profits have welcomed the Australian Government’s ongoing financial commitment to Afghanistan.
Australia's aid contribution will be approximately $AUD 250 million a year from 2015-16. The global commitment is presently around $US 16 billion over four years.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr made the announcement at a conference in Tokyo attended by the Afghan President Mohammad Karzai.
"Australian aid will also go towards rural development including community infrastructure like footpaths, drains and canals, and agriculture – introducing disease resistant wheat and maize and improving water management and conservation on farms,” Senator Carr said.
"We'll also work with the Afghan government to set up the regulatory framework around a viable mining industry, taking advantage of Afghanistan's reserves of iron, copper, gold and other resources.
"And we will continue to train Afghan government officials in financial and electoral management, helping reduce waste and corruption and building public confidence in government."
Save the Children’s humanitarian policy and advocacy advisor Rebecca Barber said the aid commitment was vital at a time when governments were withdrawing international troops.
“The Australian government owes it to the Afghan people to ensure that we hold onto and build upon the gains that have been made; and to the Australian public to ensure that a decade of investment does not go to waste,’’ Barber said.
“Any sudden cut in foreign aid to Afghanistan would present a frightening scenario,’’ she said.
“It’s predicted that within a decade, domestic expenditure will be twice the size of domestic
“If the financing gap isn’t filled by foreign aid, the Government will be forced to either cut security costs (for example by reducing the size of the army or police), or reallocate resources from essential services such as health and education to meet security needs. For the Afghan people, the implications of either option could be devastating.’’
CARE Australia chief executive Dr Julia Newton-Howes released a report titled Women and Transition in Afghanistan last week ahead of the Tokyo summit.
“Afghanistan has made considerable progress in the past 11 years, particularly in health and education – which Australian aid has contributed to,” Dr Newton-Howes said.
“Female education has faced significant obstacles in Afghanistan, yet 2.7 million Afghan girls are now enrolled in school, compared to just 5,000 in 2001.”
According to the Australian Federal Government, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy at birth is 48 years for men and 44 years for women.