Canada Urged to Rethink Aid Strategy

Canada needs to refocus its development assistance back to sub-Saharan Africa, the Vancouver Times argues in an editorial.

The Canadian newspaper also criticizes both staunch aid critics and supporters and makes a middle-of-the ground argument.

“Our view falls somewhere in the middle,” the editorial says. “[William] Easterly and [Dambisa] Moyo are wrong to dismiss all aid as ineffective or harmful, because the developing world — including Africa — offers some solid examples of interventions that did great good.”

“Yet those who echo [Jeffrey] Sachs’s call for ever more spending are also wrong if they think aid can be a cure-all. The experience of other, more successful developing regions — Asia, especially, or Latin America — demonstrates that foreign assistance has a role, but it’s trade, not aid, that’s the true driver of economic progress,” it adds.

The newspaper says there are four “obvious” priorities to foster development in sub-Saharan Africa: promote and maintain peace and stability, develop and support more productive and sustainable agriculture, back disease prevention and treatment, and support education at all levels, with a focus on girls.

The Canadian International Development Agency, it says, has done a good job in the past aiding sub-Saharan Africa. But a shift in policy, it notes, has led to less worthy projects as well as removal of most of the countries in the region from its priority list in favor of far less needy Latin America. CIDA has also diverted funding from long-term successful partnerships with non-governmental organizations to short-term schemes.

“What’s needed to help get Africans to a place where trade has a much better chance to do its magic is a refocusing of aid. Our support must go to the approaches that work, not the ones that suit someone’s political agenda. And it needs to go to the region, the issues and — above all — the people who need it most,” the editorial concludes.

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.