News Release

Canadian Development Organizations Respond to Auditor General's Report: CIDA Must Implement the Aid Accountability Act to Strengthen Aid Effectiveness

November 3, 2009

With over 1.4 billion people living in poverty, it is critical that development aid be based on long-term, stable and timely funding and programming.  It must also take needs and perspectives of those living in poverty into account through public consultations and transparent policies and commitments.  The Auditor General, in a report released today, looked at how CIDA is implementing its commitments to strengthen aid effectiveness and found that it is failing.

“We agree with the report when it notes that international development requires stability, predictability and timely decision making,” says Gerry Barr, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. “Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re getting.”

Missing from the Auditor General’s report is any mention of the recently passed Aid Accountability Act. The Act stipulates that Canadian aid must be focused on ending poverty, take into account the perspectives of those living in poverty and be based on international human rights standards. “With this Act we have a way forward. We have a way of ensuring that Canada’s foreign aid is effective,” says Barr.

The Auditor General’s overall conclusion is that “frequent changes in policy direction… have posed significant challenges to CIDA in achieving its aid effectiveness agenda.”  The Aid Act gives direction to priorities focusing on the human rights of the poor, particularly women who make up the majority of the world’s poor.
The Auditor General’s report did not mention the conclusions of a major evaluation of CIDA’s gender-equality programming, pointing to CIDA’s failure to maintain a focus on gender equality in program-based approaches to aid effectiveness.

The Auditor General’s report correctly points that there have been too many short-term shifts in both priority countries and sectors.  A recent example is the government’s decision to revisit CIDA’s 20 priority countries. Unfortunately, there was little or no consultation with the countries added to or dropped from the list. No clear reasoning was outlined for how these countries were chosen and most tragically, the number of African countries, where poverty is growing, has dropped dramatically on the country priority list.

 “It’s not clear how Canada is to contribute to ending poverty if the Canadian government is turning its back on Africa,” says Barr.

The Aid Accountability Act also outlines rigorous reporting requirements. Again, the Auditor General could point to the Act and make recommendations for its implementation, leading to greater transparency and accountability on the part of the government.

For more information contact:
Katia Gianneschi
Media Relations
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
613-241-7007 ext. 311