Thursday, May 21, 2009

Canada dead set on improving their development aid bucks

I’m back home in Vancouver and it has been a real treat to have time to myself. I get to finish up some reports long overdue, catch up with friends and family and catch up with Canadian news in international development. It looks like I came at the right time as the Minister of International Cooperation, Honourable Beverley J. Oda just announced the new Canadian strategy to international development – greater efficiency and greater focus.

Her speech was super straight forward and you know exactly what they want to do: 80% of resources towards 20 countries to increase food security, stimulate sustainable economic growth and secure the future of children and youth. Bam.

Other sidenotes include sending 15% of their Ottawa-based staff into the field and no more ‘tied aid’ – as in buying food aid in the local countries as opposed to using Canadian food and suppliers which costs up to 30% more! The Ministry is also adding a Democratic Promotion Agency – self-explanatory.

My thoughts – do it. The Ministry has only $2.1 billion to play with this year in aid, they are obviously responding to that terrible Senate report that on CIDA, Overcoming 40 Years of Failure, and we hope this criticism will shape them into a more effective agency.

While some of the criticism has already come through that this new strategy does not direct state its efforts towards poverty alleviation, the idea of increasing food security is absolutely directed at the poor. The workers at farms who are a majority women can help improve their livelihoods with improved inputs and technology for farming and hopefully see better healthy crops in the future.

I’m just stoked that Mozambique has remained as one of the priority countries!

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