CIDA cuts hit poor countries

A busy Afghan market. Afghanistan, previously rumored to lose Canadian aid, will continue to receive assistance. Photo by: Canadian International Development Agency

It’s confirmed: The Canadian International Development Agency will end its bilateral aid program in eight countries and reduce funding in five others.

On the chopping block are Nepal, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Niger, Cambodia and China. The agency, meanwhile, will slash funding for Mozambique, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Pakistan. Afghanistan and Benin, previously rumored to lose Canadian aid, will continue to receive assistance.

Ten of the countries in the list rank “low” in the U.N.’s Human Development Index 2011, leading Chantal Havard, government relations and communications officer at the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, to conclude Canada is turning its back on those who need Canadian assistance the most.

Some may view Canada’s decision as a way to withdraw further from the development scene. Havard said there is “definitely a tendency” for Canada to bring together Canada’s trade and business interests with international development, the Guardian reports.

Scott Cantin, CIDA’s media relations and public affairs manager, maintained Canada will continue to respond to humanitarian crises and sufficiently fund programs that will help meet development objectives.

But Dane Rowlands, associate director at The Normal Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, told IPS the move shows Canada is not “ideologically” attracted to development assistance and makes it vulnerable to a further decline in its reputation within the international development community. Also, he said affected countries are in danger of becoming “aid orphans,” with Canada citing high operational costs as the reason for cutting aid.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.