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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 28 January 2013

Afghanistan: New EU funding to improve health services for 14 million people and support farmers

Today, the European Commission and Afghan Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal, will sign two financing agreements worth €185 million to support new programmes in health and agriculture.

The health programme will provide basic health care and essential hospital services for 14 million people (almost half of the population) in 21 provinces. It will also support the Ministry of Public Health in ensuring the implementation of the national health strategy “Health for all Afghans.” Thanks to this new programme poor people in Afghanistan will gain access to basic public services and those who live in remote provinces will have an easier access to good medical facilities, doctors and midwives.

The agriculture programme, including water management, will focus on the rural areas in Afghanistan where about 80% of the population depends on agriculture and associated ways to make a living. The programme will support the Ministry of Agriculture in providing appropriate strategies in agriculture and implementation of the water resources management plan, fostering private sector development and addressing seasonal and chronic unemployment. It will also help to provide the rural population with alternative means of income to poppy cultivation, e.g. supporting crop production, producing and selling disease free trees or improving market conditions.

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: "The Afghan people have suffered tremendously in recent years due to war, instability and overwhelming poverty. With EU development aid we want and we must help these people to give them hope for a better tomorrow. This new funding will support Afghanistan in its quest to move from 'transition to transformation' and then to a self-sustainable country".

Background

The European Union is one of the major donors to provide official development and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. In 2012, major international conferences provided the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to Afghanistan’s peaceful transition and inclusive sustainable development: in Chicago (May 2012), the NATO summit acknowledged the importance of security to sustainable development; in Tokyo (July 2012), Afghanistan’s development partners have committed to support Afghanistan's transition and its "transformation decade" based on a partnership and mutual accountability; in Kabul, the “Heart of Asia” Ministerial conference (July) addressed regional cooperation as an important element for shifting the political focus away from conflict, towards encouraging trade and transit.

The EU supports the Government of Afghanistan's efforts to provide basic services to its population in three focal areas - governance and rule of law, agriculture and rural development and health and social protection.

For more information

Memo on Afghanistan – EU cooperation: MEMO/13/41

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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