POLITICS

Canada pledges another 227M in aid to Afghanistan

07/08/2012 01:23 EDT | Updated 09/07/2012 05:12 EDT
Canada will contribute an extra $227 million in development aid to Afghanistan between 2014 and 2017, with the money aimed at empowering women and girls in the areas of education, human rights and humanitarian assistance.

That money is in addition to the initial commitment of $300 million that Canada promised between 2011 and 2014.

The announcement was made Sunday by the parliamentary secretary for national defence, Chris Alexander, as part of the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. Donors from around 70 countries and organizations attended the one-day conference.

"Some of the money is going to civilian aid programs, targeting such things as clean water, health care, education and literacy. The illiteracy rate is very high in Afghanistan, so they're trying to bring that down," CBC's Craig Dale reported from Tokyo.

"They're also trying to prop up parts of the economy, including agriculture and mining. The thinking is if they can get people supporting legitimate things for the economy it will steer them away from the drug trade, the arms trade or joining insurgent elements."

"We don't want to see the gains in that country slip back, and we dont want to make the fragile institutions Afghanistan has vulnerable to a Taliban comeback. So that message was sent very clearly," Alexander told CBC News.

At the conference, international donors pledged $16 billion in development aid for Afghanistanover the next four years.

But they stressed the aid money will be closely monitored to make sure it is not squandered through corruption or mismanagement.

Alexander said Afghan government officials have pledged to "crack down seriously" on corruption.

"They've also pledged to strengthen the budgetary oversight that they have in order to have much tougher accounting and audit procedures. In return, the international community has made some long-term commitments," he told CBC.

"We will fight corruption with strong resolve wherever it occurs, and ask the same of our international partners," Karzai told the donors. "Together we must stop the practices that feed corruption or undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of national institutions."

Canada's decade-long combat mission ended last year when the military pulled out of Kandahar, and a smaller contingent of Canadian troops has been deployed primarily to Kabul as part of a training mission that is scheduled to wrap up in 2014.