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Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his assessment is of progress made towards meeting Afghanistan’s millennium development goals. (96418)

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is off track to meet all millennium development goals. Years of conflict and insecurity have denied basic services that we take for granted, like health care and schooling; and, one in four Afghan children dies before their fifth birthday. The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is a long- term initiative which will be reliant upon the commitment of donor agencies for many years yet.

The Government of Afghanistan recognised in the 2005 millennium development goal report “Vision 2020” that Afghanistan is unlikely to meet any of the millennium development goals by 2015. In light of this it was agreed that Afghanistan should adapt the global timelines and targets to make them meaningful in the Afghan context. The Government therefore extended the time period for achieving the targets to 2020; revised a number of the targets to make them more relevant to Afghanistan and added a ninth goal on enhancing security.

There has been progress towards these goals since 2001: presidential and parliamentary elections were held. Six million children have returned to school, over a third of them girls. 13,000 girls’ and boys’ primary and secondary schools have been built and 15 teacher training centres have been established. 35,000 lives have been saved from routine immunisations which our children are given as a matter of course.

In 2005-06 the legal economy is estimated to have grown by 14 per cent. 3.5 million refugees have returned home. Major road rehabilitation is connecting major urban centres and Afghanistan with its neighbours. Reliable electricity supply is being restored. The telecommunications sector is growing fast, connecting businesses and people in Afghanistan.