One of Canada’s six priorities for progress in Afghanistan was to help the Afghan government provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people, including refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons. This includes refugees who had recently returned to the country; widows, female-headed households, and persons internally displaced by violence or natural disasters.
- Food aid for vulnerable populations, including refugees, drought-affected families, civilians affected by conflict, refugees who have returned to the country, and internally displaced persons.
- Food aid was delivered in cooperation with the World Food Programme.
- Non-food aid (blankets, kitchen utensils, etc.) for vulnerable populations.
- Vaccinations (polio, measles, and tetanus) promoting greater access to basic health services. This initiative included Canada’s signature polio eradication project, which expects to immunize seven million children and help to close the gap on eliminating the disease in Afghanistan by 2009.
- The clearance of mines and the provision of mine awareness education.
Canada assumed responsibility for the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in August 2005. Twenty-seven PRTs throughout Afghanistan helped the democratically-elected government of Afghanistan extend its authority and ability to govern, rebuild the nation, and provide services to its citizens.
Located at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City in the southern province of Kandahar, the Canadian PRT was located in the former heartland of the Taliban regime, which previously controlled much of Afghanistan. Kandahar was one of the Afghan provinces in greatest need of support and also among those most targeted by insurgents.
The Canadian PRT combined the expertise of diplomats, corrections experts, development specialists, the Canadian police, including the RCMP, and the military. It supported key initiatives in the province and carried out a broad range of enabling roles such as police training and strengthening local governance capacity, in line with Canada’s priorities in Afghanistan.
The PRT worked on projects that had impact in the long, medium, and short term. The most important achievements would be those that fostered long-term, sustainable benefits to the Afghan people. At the same time, "quick impact" projects were also being carried out across the province to respond to the immediate needs that Afghans faced in their daily lives.
Supporting Democratic Development
Another one of Canada’s important priorities was to help advance Afghanistan’s capacity for democratic governance, by contributing to effective, accountable public institutions and electoral processes.
Canada worked to:
- Provide financial and technical support for the elections process (presidential elections in 2004 and 2009 and parliamentary elections in 2010), including the establishment of a national voter registry.
- Collaborate with other international donors to provide technical and financial resources to support the Independent Elections Commission, including the establishment of an independent electoral complaints commission.
- Provide select national institutions / departments with technical expertise, training and mentoring, equipment, and program support.
- Canada hoped that by 2011 national, provincial, and local institutions, particularly those in the province of Kandahar, would exhibit an increasing capacity for democratic governance in the deliberation and delivery of public programs and services, and in carrying out democratic elections.
- Delivery of Basic Services: The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team also helped to strengthen the Afghan government’s institutional capacity to deliver core services and promote economic growth, enhancing the confidence of Kandaharis in their government. Building the confidence of Afghans in their own government was crucial to enabling their public officials to assume continued responsibility for security, governance, and development in Kandahar.
Training and Security
Given the importance of national security in Afghanistan, one of Canada’s primary objectives was to help the Afghan government strengthen the Afghan National Army's (ANA)’s ability to conduct operations and sustain a more secure environment and to increase the Afghan National Police's (ANP) ability to promote law and order in the province of Kandahar.
A well-led, well-trained, and well-equipped ANA was essential if the Afghan government was to assume responsibility for national and provincial security, and thus enable governance and development to progress.
Canadian police and the Canadian Forces also contributed directly to the training of more than 650 members of the ANP through the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Canada provided funding for equipment, infrastructure (outposts) and police salaries.
While solid progress was achieved, challenges remain with advanced leadership and administration capabilities. Illiteracy, corruption and drug abuse among the ANA and ANP was common, and weakness in the judicial and correctional systems remain a threat to the integrity of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Another one of Canada’s priorities was to facilitate Afghan-led efforts towards political reconciliation. Canada’s approach recognized that Afghanistan would not be able to create the conditions for sustainable peace through military means alone. An Afghan-led reconciliation process was needed to weaken the insurgency, heal communal divisions, and foster sustainable peace.
While it was the Afghan government's responsibility to lead national reconciliation efforts, the international community played a valuable supporting role. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was mandated to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, and to support Afghan-led reconciliation programs.
Canada supported Afghan-led efforts to promote outreach and reconciliation in the interest of a sustainable peace, with the clear understanding that reconciliation only involved those individuals and organizations that agreed to renounce violence, respect human rights and the rule of law, and accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government and the Afghan constitution.
Canada contributed to the development of Afghan government-led mechanisms that encouraged dialogue and the improvement of the Government of Afghanistan’s capacity to communicate with its citizens, especially in the province of Kandahar.
Enhanced border security was another priority that Canada worked towards by helping to facilitate bilateral dialogue between officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan. This helped promote economic development, stability, and security in the border region.
The province of Kandahar is a critical gateway to Pakistan. A secure and well-managed border also helped promote much needed economic opportunities for border-region residents. It stimulated the flow of legitimate trade and travel while curtailing the movement of insurgents’ arms and drugs at such key crossings as between Baluchistan (Pakistan) and Kandahar.
In close co-operation with the Afghan government, Canada:
- contributed to a dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan,
- facilitated discussions of border officials from both sides of the border,
- trained border officials, and,
- provided critical infrastructure and equipment.
Two signature projects prominent among Canadian investments in the province of Kandahar included rehabilitation of the province’s main water source, the Dahla Dam, and its irrigation and canal system, helping to generate seasonal jobs, providing access to a more secure water supply and promoting agriculture.
The second signature project was the building, expanding or repairing of 50 schools in Kandahar over the course of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan. As a result, an entire generation of Afghan children in key districts of the province had increased access to learning through "Canada Schools".