CIDA on Haiti aid: Refocusing, not freezing

By Jenny Lei Ravelo 07 January 2013

Julian Fantino, Canadian minister of international cooperation. Photo by:

Canada is putting aid for new projects in Haiti “on ice” but not freezing it as it reviews its long-term engagement strategy for the Caribbean nation.

The Canadian International Development Agency made this clear Friday (Jan. 4) in response to reports that Canada was freezing aid to Haiti.

“CIDA will continue to offer our support for the people of Haiti in response to their emergency needs should humanitarian crises arise,” CIDA said in a statement, as quoted by CBC News.

“Often when we say we will freeze [something], it’s sometimes a moment when we need to … refocus,” UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti Michaelle Jean told The Canadian Press in an interview. “I hope that is what this means — in all my heart, I hope that’s what this means.”

Jean served as Canada’s 27th governor general, from 2005 to 2010. The governor general is the official representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

International cooperation minister Julian Fantino told La Presse in a Jan. 4 interview that Canada aims to take on a new approach in Haiti, one that, according to CIDA, “[maximizes] tax payer dollars based on results achieved, lessons learned and the needs and priorities of the Haitian government.”

The agency noted that La Presse’s headline was “not indicative of what was said by the minister.”

In the La Presse interview, the minister said: “Should we do the same thing in the same way as before in Haiti? I think not!”

He added that Canada will continue funding existing projects in Haiti, but not new ones.

Fantino expressed concerns about the slow progress in Haiti during his visit to the country in November. The minister, according to Haiti’s ambassador to Canada, Frantz Liautaud, has not approved new aid projects for Haiti since July.

“I’ve had no communication from CIDA so far, but I’ve asked right away for a meeting with Mr. Fantino,” he said, The Globe and Mail reports.

CIDA has been among the top donors to Haiti, according to data from the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2011, the donor disbursed more than 250 million Canadian dollars ($253.17 million) to Haiti through bilateral and multilateral channels, as per information from its website. Its focus areas in Haiti include child and maternal health, food security and economic growth.

The news comes days ahead of the third anniversary of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that put the country’s capital in ruins. To this day, the country suffers from a number of development challenges. At least 360,000 Haitians were living in camps as of December 2012, according to a report by the International Organization for Migration.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

Jenny lei ravelo 400x400
Jenny Lei Ravelo@JennyLeiRavelo

Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.

Join the Discussion