The European Commission and Afghan Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal, have signed two financing agreements worth €185 million to support new programs in health and agriculture.
The health program 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 program 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 program, 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 program 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".
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