Monday, November 14, 2005

What About Afghanistan?

One of the reasons Bush critics have for attacking the war in Iraq is that our military took their eye off the ball in Afghanistan. This is a valid concern, as it's no small task to conduct two major operations simultaneously on the other side of the world.

So for the record, let's examine what has been done in Afghanistan, beyond those little things like removing the Taliban, dismantling terrorist training camps, killing hundreds of Al Qaeda vermin, and sending Bin Laden into hiding. So here's a list, from the USAid website, of the major humanitarian related accomplishments over the past few years:

  • Over 8 million Afghani men and women have participated in free democratic elections. The US provided 40% of the $200 million to conduct the election.
  • USAID Primary Education Program provides teacher training, accelerated learning for students, and textbook printing/distribution. Over 600,000 texts for accelerated learning and over 35 million regular textbooks have been printed and distributed. 6,800 teachers have been trained in the accelerated learning program, and over 170,000 students have enrolled.
  • 315 schools have been built or refurbished, and an additional 184 are under construction.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to the Afghan Conservation Corps for reforestation, and Bush has requested $10 million more. In addition, the Combined Forces Command is contributing 150,000 saplings for planting.
  • Afghanistan is one of only 3 South Asian nations on target to eradicate polio this year. Only 4 cases were reported in 2004.
  • 3 industrial parks have been opened, and the privatization of state-owned businesses is underway. The industrial parks are expected to employ 10,000 people.
  • A women's dormitory was refurbished in Kabul with $9 million in US aid. The dorm will provide housing for 1,100 Afghani women to pursue higher education. The American University of Kabul has been created.
  • 116 construction projects for roads, bridges, water supply, irrigation, etc. have been completed. Another 106 are under construction, and 126 are in the planning/design phase. A total of $137 million dollars have been provided for these projects.
  • 338 health care facilities have been built or refurbished, and another 354 are in progress. 310 facilities are supported by USAID. 5,000 community healthcare workers and over 700 doctors have been trained. Approximately 235,000 patients receive care monthly from these clinics.
  • The US led an effort to reorganize all land titling records. Title searches, which used to take 2-3 months, are now completed same day.
  • A venture capital and loan guarantee program is being created to assist ex-combatants. Nearly 10,000 loans have been made to farmers, and over $2 million has been used to fund a revolving credit facility for farmers.
  • In 2004, more than 80 tons of narcotics, 75 drug labs, and 2 opium bazaars were destroyed. 20,000 Afghanis are employed in public works projects, and 2,800 hectares of wheat cultivation is being funded to provide livelihoods for poppy farmers. Poppy cultivation is down 10%, 50%, and 96% in 3 key provinces.
  • Irrigation has been improved on over 50,000 hectares of land. 17 seed farms have been established, 973 fertilizer dealers ahve been trained, and 347 extension staff have been trained on fertilization and pest control techniques.
  • 236 weapons caches have been discovered, many turned in by Afghan citizens. 22,000 militia troops have been disarmed, and > 40,000 Afghan security forces have been trained. In addition, 19,000 police have been trained.

    Thanks to the men and women of America's armed forces, Afghanistan is now a safer place to live with far greater opportunities for education, prosperity, and healthcare.
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