In Afghanistan, Canada Seen As Shifting Aid Strategy

    A member of the Canadian Forces talks with village elders to discuss local problems and solutions during a shura. Photo by: Jean-Francois Capentier / CC BY-NC-ND

    Canada is seen to be quietly shifting its aid strategy in Afghanistan as it has pulled out it development team, reduced its budget for the country and moved to channel most of its assistance through multilateral organizations such as the World Bank.

    The quiet departure of Canadian International Development Agency staff from Afghanistan was a “fitting end to an aid program that leaves behind an uncertain legacy, one the Canadian government has struggled to explain, plan, execute and promote almost from its inception,” a report on the Canada-based Winnipeg Free Press says.

    The report notes that despite achieving some successes, Canada’s aid program in Afghanistan did not make a very significant impact because of failure to overcome security challenges in the conflict-torn country and the bureaucratic wrangling in CIDA and government headquarters in Ottawa. The program also lacked proper monitoring and a focus on sustainability, the report adds.

    “Canada’s aid budget to the country has now been halved to about $100 million a year. Efforts will be centered out of Kabul and funding will return to multilateral agencies for national programs focused on education, health, regional diplomacy and humanitarian assistance,” the report also notes.

    But at least one non-governmental organization official who has worked with CIDA in Afghanistan has argued that these moves should not be seen as signs Canada is backing away. Kevin McCourt, head of CARE Canada, said that it could be seen as shift in Canada’s approach, as long as the country fulfills its standing commitments.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.