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African countries take a hit in federal budget says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives


African countries take a hit in federal budget says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Excerpts from the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget 2013:

“Despite sometimes marginal increases in wealth, income is concentrated among a more wealthy minority and many people live precariously on the margins of poverty. Globalization and free trade may have brought with it growth in some parts of the world, but it certainly has not been equitable neither between countries and regions, nor within them.

Against this backdrop, Budget 2012 delivered a punishing message to the world’s poor. Between FY2011–12 and FY2014–15, Canadian aid is set to decrease by 7.6%, from $5 billion in 2011 to $4.66 billion in 2014–15.

Between 2011–12 and 2012–13 alone, it is estimated that Canada’s ODA will drop by almost $320 million, assuming no additional supplementary estimates in 2012–13. This is equivalent to the Canadian International.

Development Agency (CIDA) pulling all of its funding for the Global Fund to fight HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ($180 million), for water and sanitation ($70 million), and for the World Food Programme ($70 million).

Where Will the Impact Be Felt?

CIDA will be completely cutting its geographic funding to eight countries (Cambodia, China, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and will reduce program funding by $69 million to five of its 20 countries of focus (Bolivia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Pakistan, and Tanzania).

African countries, where poverty is still endemic, are taking a big hit, with eight countries in this continent losing funding. Ten of the 13 countries affected lie in the bottom quarter of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

Contrary to the ODA Accountability Act which requires that poverty reduction and human rights standards be the determining factors, Canada is following in the footsteps of other bilateral donors, who are using aid to promote their country’s national economic interests.”

Canadian aid policy not based on

fighting poverty,

aid groups say

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation, the coalition of about 100 development groups, says countires in need are being left out of Canadian aid.* Here is a summary of countries that are being cut from Canadian aid, according to the CCIC:
Countries where aid is cut or reduced are at the bottom of the Human Development Index
Countries of Focus that were cut, but not completely, and their Human Development Index (of 187 countries, 2011)

    Bolivia 108
    Pakistan 145
    Ethiopia 174
    Mozambique 184
    Tanzania 152

Non-Countries of Focus that were completely cut, and their Human Development Index

    Cambodia 139
    China 101
    Malawi 171
    Nepal 157
    Niger 186
    Rwanda 166
    Zambia 164
    Zimbabwe 173

Meanwhile: Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, important trading partners for Canada in recent years, did not see their programs cut.

* The Social Justice Committee of Montreal, the Upstream publisher, is not a member. The SJC argues for aid based on a broader consideration of human needs, respect for human rights, and the empowerment of local communities and culture.

CIDA comes to an end

The folding of CIDA into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade probably means the end of any hope that the agency would ever become truly professional and effective as an agency that fights poverty.

The manipulation of aid money for political and commercial purpose is, of course, not new. CIDA aid to Indonesia increased ten-fold in the 1970s, for strategic and investment reasons, despite the actions of the corrupt, authoritarian Suharto regime and its genocidal occupation of East Timor. More recently, it is apparent that a lot of the CIDA money that went to Haiti was for political objectives.

But this latest move has even a cynic like me appalled. Done with no consultation or discussion with the development community, no analysis or input on what the implications are for Canadian aid, the decision to close CIDA was made by the same ideologue who gutted and then closed Canada’s human rights agency, Rights and Democracy, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Is an agency like CIDA even needed anymore? It cut off funding to Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda and Zambia despite the desperate needs of people there, and boosted spending in wealthier countries of higher strategic and commercial importance, like Colombia. So why should we Canadians continue to let it spend our money? Well, in those places where it has been allowed to function properly, it has done a decent job of delivering the basics of development – health and education. For the most part, CIDA people do their best to improve other people’s lives.

I hope that CIDA doesn’t disappear completely, and that someday the government will allow development professionals to do their job independent of political meddling. The world desperately needs development agencies that are professional and take an approach to poverty that empowers and gives voice to the impoverished.
– Derek MacCuish, Editor

Not with a bang…

What people say about the end of Canada’s international development agency

“As the linkages between our foreign policy, development, and trade objectives continue to grow, the opportunity to leverage each of these grows at equal pace,”- 2013 budget document.

“It will be important to watch closely how this will be addressed… Our hope is that CIDA’s mandate will not be watered down any further.” – Julia Sanchez, President-CEO, Canadian Council for International Cooperation.

« L’Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI) dénonce le virage idéologique qui subordonne désormais la solidarité internationale aux intérêts de la politique étrangère et commerciale canadienne. »

“Our foreign policy priorities have always influenced our development assistance programs… This restructuring offers a real opportunity to improve the quality of our programming and to push scarce dollars to the poor as the costs in Ottawa go down. ” – Janice Gross Stein, director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

“No matter where CIDA is administratively housed, we still must ask what role Canada will play in the international arena to contribute to addressing global challenges and how CIDA will continue to fulfill its specific mandate.” – Michael Casey, Executive Director of Development and Peace.

“By hijacking funds meant for long-term development to satisfy short-term political purposes, and by consistently sidelining CIDA’s development expertise, the Canadian government has sabotaged the agency. In a self-serving argument, it has then blamed CIDA for its lack of effectiveness, using that to justify its abolition.” – Stephen Brown, Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa.

“The record shows that the Trade and Foreign Affairs Ministries have had virtually no commitment to pro-development policies of their own, and no clue on how to define and pursue our national interest in developing countries in more than the crudest, most adolescent terms.” – Bernard Wood, former head of the Development Cooperation Directorate at the OECD, founding head of Canada’s North-South Institute.

“CIDA ignored, deliberately, the fact that security is a key element of the context for the making and implementation of foreign policy, for development and for trade. As a human security advisor and practitioner in SE Asia, I struggled for six years to convince CIDA people that ‘security’ was not a dirty word. Now, maybe, Canada’s wishes and work overseas will be informed by approrpriate analysis of all the important drivers.” – David Harries – Former military engineer officer, now a specialist in international relations in terms of governance and security.

“Canadian development assistance is now set for more cuts and a plunge into further ineffectiveness, less transparency and more diversion to short-term commercial and political interests. The move will tarnish Canada’s international reputation, and it will draw us farther away from solutions to poverty, problems that have and will continue to have a direct and negative effect on Canada.” – Ian Smillie, author of Freedom from Want, member of the McLeod Group.

“I have to question how much a poverty of leadership from CIDA contributed to Thursday’s decision. Over the last few years, I watched with hopelessness CIDA’s pursuit of un-strategic policies or rolling along with no strategies whatsoever.” – Nipa Banerjee, professor at the School of International Development at the University of Ottawa after 30+ years with CIDA .

« La disparition de l’ACDI, près d’un demi-siècle après sa création, pourrait entrainer une perte importante pour les Québécois et les Canadiens. L’ACDI a constitué un levier essentiel au déploiement de l’effort de solidarité des Québécois au cours des dernières décennies. » – Jean-François Lisée, le ministre des Relations internationales, de la Francophonie et du Commerce extérieur.

Derek MacCuish – who has written posts on Upstream Journal.

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