Afghanistan, Kabul, 7 September / Trend corr.A.Hakimi/ The government of Canada released a series of benchmarks for the six priorities and three signature projects it is implementing in Afghanistan between now and 2011.
According to Afghanistan-based Trend correspondent, Canadaїs new direction in Afghanistan, announced on June 10, focuses on working with the Afghan government to improve the lives of the people and, in particular, the residents of Kandahar.
In June, we announced our six strategic priorities. The 21 benchmarks we are announcing today will help us better track how we are doing on those priorities, said David Emerson, minister of foreign affairs and chair of Canadaїs Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan.
They will help us clearly report to Canadians the progress being made in Afghanistan. They are all about improving accountability and transparency in keeping with the recommendations made in the report of the Independent Panel on Canadaїs Future Role in Afghanistan.
A statement from the Canadian embassy here said the benchmarks and progress indicators had been identified for each of the priorities and signature projects as a means of assessing the effectiveness of Canadaїs efforts in Afghanistan.
The benchmarks developed in consultation with the Afghan government in some cases provide numerical targets such as creating 10,000 seasonal jobs by the Dahla Dam project and building, expanding or repairing 50 schools. In other cases, the statement added, there are qualitative measures that include gauging public perception or assessing the implementation of policies and programs, an example being increased dialogue between Pakistani and Afghan officials about border issues.
Minister of International Cooperation Beverley J. Oda argued: The repair of the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system, the building and repairing of schools and polio eradication are all projects which will improve the lives of the Afghan people, so measuring progress against benchmarks will be important.
The government of Canada will report on progress against the benchmarks, challenges and any required adjustments in quarterly reports to parliament. The first of these reports was tabled on June 10. These benchmarks will demonstrate that Canada has strengthened its engagement in Afghanistan since this report, despite a volatile security environment.
Training and mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces so that they can assume responsibility for operations in Kandahar is a key priority, said Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defense and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Focused for the next three years on a targeted set of objectives, Canadaїs engagement in Afghanistan will contribute to a more secure Kandahar that is better governed and can deliver basic services to its citizens, supported by a more capable Afghan national government that can better provide for security, border management and sustain stability and reconstruction over the long term.