Canada to reduce bilateral aid to Ethiopia [Interview]

The Canadian government to reduce its bilateral assistance to Ethiopia, Benin, Niger, Cambodia, China, Nepal, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to the news on several Canadian news outlets.

While the Canadian government plans to reduced its development assistance budget by USD 377 million, it is not clear how big the cut would be on the amount provided to Ethiopia.

In year 2010-11, Canada provided about USD 176 million development assistance to Ethiopia through international, multilateral and Canadian organizations.

The planned cuts appears to be only on the aid channel through Canadian Organizations, especially CIDA.

A Canadian news outlet was able to get an e-mail interview with Minister of International Cooperation, Beverley J. Oda.

Read the text of the interview below.

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Q: Can you confirm that Canada’s bilateral aid to Ethiopia will remain constant for 2012-13 at $146 million (same as 2011-12)? If not, what funding changes are planned for this year and coming years? Will there be changes to multilateral aid? If funding has not been cut, can you explain what specific factors led Canada to keep the funding constant in Ethiopia while a number of other African and other countries internationally are seeing funding cut or dropped altogether?

A: Ethiopia has been identified as one of the countries where CIDA will reduce its bilateral programming.

- Canada’s international development assistance will continue our government’s commitment to make our international assistance focused, effective, and accountable and that Canada will continue to deliver value for aid dollars, making a real difference in the lives of the people they are intended to help.

- We will continue our efforts in this direction and build on steps we have taken so far. Canada will continue to build on its successes and lessons learned in its drive for focussed results benefitting the people of Ethiopia to build upon the results, successes and lessons learned in Ethiopia to provide the best use of our aid dollars.

- CIDA will maintain strong partnerships with key multilateral and global partners and will continue to respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian crises.

- We are consolidating some programming and winding down support where Canadian commitments have been met.

- At the same time, Canada continues to provide leadership and investments to various important multilateral initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Global Partnership for Education.

- Canada also continues its support to development banks that provide financing to developing countries to boost economic growth and UN organizations that provide support and engage with developing countries on a wide range of issues in all corners of the world.

- CIDA will eliminate/reduce modest multilateral investments that have high operating costs, that have overlap with other programming or that do not closely align with CIDA’s thematic priorities.

Q: How much do trade and strategic/security concerns factor in to Canada’s bilateral aid strategy for Ethiopia?

A: Results and effectiveness are at the forefront of the development agenda.

- Canada’s aid achieves concrete results.

- For example, we support programs that help alleviate hunger in developing countries, enable millions more children to be in school, and help developing countries ensure the essential elements for sustainable economic growth are in place.

- Canada is also leading a global effort to help improve the health of mothers and children and reduce the number of preventable deaths.

Q: Does Canada support the Ethiopian government’s resettlement of Ethiopians to make way for large-scale commercial agriculture developments? Will CIDA fund NGOs that help with the humanitarian effects of the resettlement policy, as it has said it would for Canadian mining projects?

A: CIDA does not provide support to the Government of Ethiopia’s Commune Program nor to any industrial and large scale commercial agriculture projects.

- CIDA currently has no bilateral programming related to the resettlement policy.

Q: Why does Canada continue to support, through its bilateral aid, a government in Ethiopia that has jailed its opposition and critical journalists, limits the work of groups to do advocacy work and democratic development, and is seen by most observers as a repressive, undemocratic regime that routinely abuses the human rights of its citizens?

A: Canada takes human rights, including the persecution of LGTBQ individuals, into consideration when determining the most effective distribution of aid, and Canada takes allegations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia very seriously.

- Canada does not provide direct budget support to the Government of Ethiopia.

- Canada’s development assistance to Ethiopia is channelled through international, multilateral and Canadian organizations.

- Canada attaches conditions and controls to its development assistance delivery mechanisms in all recipient countries, including Ethiopia to prevent misuse of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars.

Q: Some NGOs complain that CIDA’s new competitive-bid protocols on applying for project funding via the Partnership Branch favour short-term projects to the detriment of the long-term projects they think a country with deep-seated poverty like Ethiopia needs. What is CIDA’s response to this, and does it plan any changes to this protocol? Will there be any change of focus to the kinds of projects the Partnership Branch funds in Ethiopia and through which partners it will fund them?

A: Efficiency, effectiveness and the capacity to deliver concrete results are the key criteria for allocating development resources. The most meritorious proposals put forward by Canadians organizations will continue to be funded.

- CIDA’s Partnerships with Canadians Branch (PWCB) recognises that Canadian organizations are respected, effective and experienced in work with the objective of poverty reduction in developing countries.

- Our Government respects the wishes of Canadians who want Canada to do its part to help those living in poverty. Canadian tax payers also want Canada’s international assistance to be effective and make a real, sustainable difference to help those we intend to help.

- Under its Partners for Development Program, CIDA selects effective, and cost -efficient projects that will deliver results and outcomes in an accountable way.

- CIDA’s support decisions are made according to the merits of proposals, good use of tax payers dollars and results to be achieved, not only based on organizations. Canada is fortunate to have many organizations based in every region of Canada and CIDA receives many worthwhile proposals. However, not every proposal can be supported.

* Interview originally published on the Ottawa Citizen, on May 11,2012.

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