India clears $100 mn aid to Afghanistan

Ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit here next week, India Thursday cleared $100 million aid for the third phase of the small developmental projects (SDPs) for Afghanistan as part of its commitment on a $2 billion aid programme.

The union cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the chair, approved the third phase of the SDPs in Afghanistan, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters here after the meeting.

"The outlay on the third phase of the SDPs is $100 million (around Rs.500 crore)," he said.
The SDPs directly impact local communities and support social-economic development, provide livelihood, help conserve environmental and cultural heritage, empower women, promote child welfare and facilitate community life through creation of infrastructure in the education, health, agriculture and agro-industry, renewable energy, trade, transport and communication, recreation and community development sectors, a cabinet pressnote said.

"Local communities of Afghanistan would directly benefit from the SDPs. Exact number of beneficiaries cannot be verified. This will cover all 34 provinces of Afghanistan," it said.
The SDPs were earlier implemented in two phases. The first phase in July 2006 comprised 50 projects worth $11,216,179 and the second phase in June 2008 comprised 51 projects worth $8,579,537.

"Most of the projects in the two phases have been completed," it said.

The projects will be implemented over a period of four years through local Afghan government agencies, community organisations, NGOs, charitable trusts, and education and vocational institutions. The expenditure on the projects will be met from the non-plan head of 'Aid to Afghanistan' budget of India's external affairs ministry.

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