The total amount of money pledged by countries at the upcoming Afghan reconstruction conference in Tokyo will be close to $5 billion over the next 2 1/2 years, Sadako Ogata, Japan’s special envoy on Afghanistan and joint chair of the conference, said Saturday.

“I am looking at a fairly good number at the moment,” she told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. “I expect (the amount pledged) will come close to $5 billion.”

Prior to the Tokyo conference, to be held Monday and Tuesday, the World Bank, the U.N. Development Program and the Asian Development Bank have jointly released an assessment of the amount of funds needed to rebuild Afghanistan. They estimate that $4.9 billion is needed in the next 2 1/2 years, while a figure of $14.6 billion will be required over the next decade.

Ogata emphasized, however, that she would not be disappointed if the amount offered does not reach her target because the term of each nation’s donation will vary from one year to five years.

“The Tokyo conference is just the beginning of a long process,” she said. “Japan, as joint chair and the host nation of the conference, must make a long-term commitment to reconstruction and take the lead in urging other countries to continue their assistance.”

Other chairs of the conference are the United States, the European Union and Saudi Arabia.

Ogata said donor countries must discuss how to achieve a smooth transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery and reconstruction.

Community-level development, such as building houses, schools and hospitals, and human resource development, especially in the education of women, who were not allowed to attend schools under the Taliban regime, will be the first steps in reconstruction efforts, she said.

“Japan can play a vital role in this area because one of Japan’s aid pillars is people development,” Ogata said.

Discussions on how to coordinate the assistance from the various donor countries and match the aid with people’s needs is another important topic to be addressed at the conference, she said.

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