Canadian Consulting Engineer

Increased CIDA Infrastructure Funding Necessary for Impoverished Developing Nations

ACEC is calling on the Canadian International Development Agency to rebalance its portfolio so it can support infrastructure investments and increase the budget for its Industrial Cooperation Program ...

January 1, 2004  Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC is calling on the Canadian International Development Agency to rebalance its portfolio so it can support infrastructure investments and increase the budget for its Industrial Cooperation Program to allow more private sector firms to contribute to international development.

Many Canadians pride themselves on their country’s reputation for helping those in developing nations. Whether it is by helping design wells to provide clean water or designing telecommunications systems to support the beginnings of urbanization, Canada has a reputation for supporting its global neighbours through organizations like the federally funded CIDA. However, over the past 30 years, CIDA has dedicated only 11% of its international aid to infrastructure — the lowest of the eight OECD donors assessed. Japan’s comparable ratio was 52%.

Through infrastructure projects, Canada and Canadian engineers have made an exceptional contribution to international development in the past. However, even with this accumulated talent, experience and expertise, ACEC fears that Canada is withdrawing its skills and resources at a time when they are indispensable. The backbone to any economy, whether it is Canada or a developing country, is potable water, adequate sewer systems, reliable power and effective transport and communications systems. We here in Canada could not live without them and we cannot expect poorer economies to thrive without those basic services.

CIDA has achieved much over the past years, but it is no longer providing support for what developing countries have clearly stated they want and need the most: support for their physical infrastructure. A 2001 CIDA Performance Review provided evidence of the effectiveness of these infrastructure projects over the previous three decades and concluded that generally these projects had been sustainable over the longer term and had contributed to poverty reduction and the welfare of women.

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