June 10, 2008 / 10:02 PM / in 12 years

Canada says boosting and refocusing Afghan aid

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will increase aid to Afghanistan over the next three years and shift its focus toward development from military activity, the government announced on Tuesday.

Aid for the 10-year period 2001-2011 will rise to C$1.9 billion ($1.8 billion) from a previously announced C$1.3 billion, with C$280 million a year being spent over the next three years, a statement said.

The minority Conservative government pledged earlier this year to put more focus on development as part of a deal to win opposition support to keep Canada’s 2,500-strong military force in Afghanistan until 2011.

The government also adopted three “signature projects” designed to give Canada more visibility and focus:

- rehabilitating the Dahla dam, Afghanistan’s second biggest dam, which provides water for 80 percent of the population of the southern Kandahar province

- build, expand and repair 50 schools in Kandahar districts

- polio immunization of 7 million children with the goal of eradicating the disease in Afghanistan by the end of next year.

“Our ultimate goal remains the same — to leave Afghanistan to Afghans, in a country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure,” Foreign Minister David Emerson said.

“What is new is that we will significantly concentrate Canadian efforts and resources on the areas most likely to help us reach that goal.”

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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