Canadian Aid Spending to Fight Sexual Violence in Congo Questioned

A new report by The Globe and Mail has exposed criticisms against spending of Canadian aid for anti-sexual violence programs in Congo.

“A lot of money is mobilized around the world for sexual violence programs, and it’s lost in administration and logistics,” Justine Masika Bihamba said to the newspaper.

Canada gave Bihamba’s organization 90,000 Canadian dollars (USD88,000) under a Canadian anti-rape project, which has received 15 million Canadian dollars from the Canadian government since 2006.

The money, Bihamba told The Globe and Mail, goes to the pricey expense of flying in foreign experts, who, she said, “have to have 4x4 cars and a good salary and danger pay,” and live in “lakeside houses for 6,000 [Canadian dollars] a month.”

She added: “All of this is money that could go to the program. How much will reach the victim? The victim, at the end, will get nothing.”

The same Canadian project was touted by Denis Tougas, a Congo analyst at Montreal-based Catholic group L’Entraide missionnaire, as very bureaucratic.

The Globe and Mail obtained an internal government report issued 2008 on Canada’s anti-rape initiative. The report blasted the project for too much spending on T-shirts and vests aimed to educate Congolese on sexual violence and for “relatively minor activities such as thousands of dollars planned for meetings.” While it hailed the success of the project in delivering medical services to some victims, the report described the effort as “weak” in stopping more acts of sexual violence and the scheme’s justice component as “essentially non-functional.”

Canadian International Development Agency spokeswoman Emilie Milroy defended the Congo project, noting that it was instrumental in providing more than 36,000 victims with health services, including psychosocial services, 7,000 victims with skills training, and 1,863 victims with legal assistance, prompting compensation from 188 offenders.

“One program in the space of a few years cannot redress all of the challenges related to the scourge of sexual violence,” Milroy said, as quoted by the Canadian newspaper. “The work CIDA is funding is important and there are results.”

About the author

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino is an associate editor for Devex and leads the company's news team in Manila. She played a critical role in conceptualizing the Development Newswire. Prior to joining Devex in 2004, she has already published articles and news briefs for Internet media organizations and for the Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy at Fordham University in New York. She earned her bachelor's in political science and master's in public affairs from the University of the Philippines. Eliza is a member of Mensa Philippines.