Canada

Ottawa boosting aid to Afghanistan by $550 million

Ottawa announced the mission in Afghanistan will have a greater focus on reconstruction, development and security training, with an increase in aid of more than a half a billion dollars.

Ottawa announced the mission in Afghanistan will have a greater focus on reconstruction, development and security training, with an increase in aid of more than a half a billion dollars.

David Emerson, the acting foreign affairs minister, announced "three signature projects" that will be part of the effort, including a $50-million refurbishment of the Dahla dam in the northern Arghandab district of Kandahar.

"That's a vital reservoir that will serve seven of Kandahar's 17 districts by 2011," Emerson said in a news conference in Ottawa.

The Canadian project will repair the dam, restore its generating capacity and dredge the silt that has clogged its spillways and the canals that carry irrigation water.

Emerson said the plan will increase access to education, particularly for girls, by building 50 schools in Kandahar by 2011.

As well, Canada plans to immunize up to seven million children under the age of 5 against polio by 2009.

The schools project will cost $12 million and the immunization program will get $60 million.

Emerson said those projects and others will boost the government's aid commitment by $550 million to 2011, the end date of Canada's mission.

The announcement was made two days before donor countries involved in Afghanistan, including Canada, are scheduled to meet in Paris to talk about aid and development.

With files from the Canadian Press

now