How Canada can make its aid more effective
December 1, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
Before Canada can make further commitments to expand its international cooperation budgets, it must first ensure that it is maximizing the effectiveness of its current aid programs. Canada must also e...
Before Canada can make further commitments to expand its international cooperation budgets, it must first ensure that it is maximizing the effectiveness of its current aid programs. Canada must also ensure that its aid dollars are being expended and managed within acceptable practices of transparency and accountability.
There are three things that Canada can do immediately to maximize the impact of its international aid:
1. Re-Canadianize Canadian Aid
At a time when CIDA is taking the “Canadian brand” out of its aid programs, the Canadian government must take strategic advantage of the wealth of Canadian knowledge and experience in international development and reverse the reliance on foreign agencies and governments to administer its aid dollars. Specifically, to allow Canadians to be directly involved in aid projects, CIDA must increase its “bilateral” portfolio to 50% of its budget. The resulting increased Canadian presence internationally will not only enhance Canada’s visibility and influence abroad, but also can promote mutually-beneficial cultural and economic exchanges with different regions of the world.
2. Support investments in much-needed infrastructure
At a time when developing countries are asking for support in the development of sustainable physical infrastructure, the Canadian government must re-establish balance in its international cooperation portfolio by reinstating funding for infrastructure investments in the developing world. Specifically, CIDA should allocate up to 50% of its bilateral aid to the planning and design of infrastructure investments. By doing so, Canada can contribute to two priority areas identified by CIDA: health and environmental sustainability.
3. Employ the talent and resources of the Canadian private sector
At a time when CIDA is trying to help private sector development, the government of Canada must recognize the contribution that the Canadian private sector can make in the design and delivery of aid projects. Specifically, CIDA projects should partner Canadian private sector firms with emerging companies in developing countries. For example, infrastructure projects could have Canadian engineering firms working with their counterparts in developing countries, and thus contribute to the development and strengthening of indigenous design and management capacity.
Canadians have in the past, and can in the future, make a difference in the world. We need to redesign our international cooperation programs so that we once again provide Canadians with the means and support to make a contribution. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the world.