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Canada and Overseas Development

CIDA in the 21st century

More than four decades after its establishment, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and other Canadian governmental and non-governmental institutions continue to play a major role in international development. CIDA distributes approximately three-quarters of Canadian federally funded Official Development Assistance (ODA). During the 2009-10 fiscal year, it disbursed $3.58 billion, compared with $541 million funnelled through Finance Canada, $426 million through Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and $174 million through the International Development Research Centre.

As Canada’s lead aid agency, CIDA has seen its priorities and targets change over the years. In the early years, CIDA tended toward funding projects that were capital-intensive, featuring products such as Canadian-manufactured locomotives. There were also donations of surplus Canadian agricultural products — boatloads of wheat sailed off in all directions. In recent years, however, CIDA has shifted away from the concept of tied aid — aid that is of benefit to Canadian businesses. Tied aid is open to criticism, as it distorts the process of getting the right kind of assistance to people at the lowest possible cost.

Another critique of early Canadian foreign aid is that since it was distributed to so many nations, it was difficult for a mid-sized donor like Canada to make a significant impact in any one recipient country.

Over the past few years, CIDA has decided to narrow its focus of activities and reduce the number of countries on which it will concentrate. There has been a new emphasis on developing countries within the western hemisphere, including Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, Peru and 14 countries in the Caribbean. Five Asian countries made it onto Canada’s list: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam. While several African countries had their aid cut, seven sub-Saharan countries were declared priorities: Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania. One eastern European country — Ukraine — was selected, and in the Middle East, CIDA declared the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza to be priorities.


This piece features a series of charts that detail Canada’s contribution to Official Development Assistance, as compared to other countries. Users can click to learn about Canada’s Net ODA contributions and the world’s net ODA contributions in relation to the UN’s target, as well as the history of all countries’ contributions and the rate of donation from 1970 to 2009.


On the next page:

CIDA’s partners in development

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Quiz :

How has Canada's commitment to the Global Environmental Facility for 2010-2014 changed?

Stayed the same