Australia’s roadmap for Afghan aid: education, jobs and governance
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr today announced Australia’s road map for Afghanistan development assistance, targeting education, rural jobs and the ability of Afghan governments to manage finances and elections.
Senator Carr was speaking at the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, attended by Afghan National President Mohammad Karzai, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Foreign Ministers from donor countries.
“Our message today is there must be no going back on progress made since 2002,” Senator Carr said.
“We’ll be focusing our aid on delivering education, rural development and governance – the building blocks of a sustainable Afghan state.
“Alongside international counterparts, we’ve done well on Afghan education – with more than eight million students in primary schools compared to just one million under the Taliban.
“Our aim now is to help lift attendance to 10 million primary students, out of a school-age population of around 13 million.
“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.
“These are important steps in improving productivity and supporting local jobs.
“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.”
“Taken together, these measures represent the heart of Australia’s road map for Afghan aid – delivering long-term alternatives for the Afghan people and a chance to increase national self-reliance.
Senator Carr said he had also discussed Afghan progress on anti-corruption measures with Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmay Rassoul.
“The world is moving from ‘fighting’ to ‘building’ in Afghanistan – good news, but not without risks in the form of poor corruption controls,” Senator Carr said.
“I’ve pursued this issue with Minister Rassoul, who has agreed that his country will work within a Mutual Accountability Framework to ensure the effectiveness of our aid program.”
The global commitment to Afghan aid is presently around $US16 billion over four years, including Australia’s contribution of approximately $AUD250 million a year from 2015-16.
Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy at birth is 48 years for men and 44 years for women.
Afghan adult literacy rates are 40 percent for men and 12 percent for women.