UN’s SRSG Eide urges strong support for Afghanistan agriculture, big infrastructure
13 January 2009 - UN Special Representative Kai Eide on Tuesday praised the Government of Canada for a new 14 million Canadian dollar (US$ 11.5 million) contribution towards Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs this winter, on top of its existing programmes for national and local development.
Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, alongside Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Asif Rahimi and Canada’s Minister for International Cooperation Beverley Oda, Special Representative Eide said that such assistance was essential. The contribution announced on Tuesday will go towards addressing urgent winter relief needs, including for the many people currently without sufficient food or livestock feed.
Eide added that a joint Humanitarian Action Plan involving the Government and Donors and covering some US$ 600 million in relief projects would be launched within weeks.
Eide also echoed a call by Minister of Agriculture Rahimi to make agriculture a priority area for Afghanistan’s longer-term development, alongside investment in large-scale infrastructure projects.
“There is no need for Afghans to be suffering humanitarian crises over and over again,” Eide said. “Afghanistan is poor but it’s not destined to remain so. It can be prosperous if we emphasize agriculture and big infrastructure needs.”
Afghanistan’s agriculture sector has since 2002 received relatively little investment and attention, but the Paris Conference of June 2008 made agriculture a priority area for the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners. Among recent UN initiatives has been a trip by Special Representative Eide to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in late 2008 to explore how the two Central Asian countries might work with Afghanistan in areas including water resource sharing for irrigation purposes.
The Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations launched a joint appeal for US$ 404 million in humanitarian relief in July 2008, to help Afghanistan overcome food security and drought problems. To date the appeal is 53 per cent funded ($215 million of $404 million requested). Of the UN’s five main appealing agencies, the World Food Programme has received 72 per cent ($133.7 million out of $185 million requested); the Food and Agriculture Organization has received 70.4 per cent of its requested funds ($14.2m out of $20.15m); the UN Children’s Fund has received 91 per cent ($5.6m out of $6.2m); and the World Health Organization has received 55 per cent ($1.2m out of $2.2m).