Poorest Nations Won't Be Left Behind, says CIDA Minister Carroll

Sarah McGregor
Published: Wednesday, 03/23/2005 12:00 am EST

The Canadian International Development Agency has set a new bar for countries to be eligible for bilateral foreign aid. Generally, nations whose citizens make less than $1,000 (US) annually will be eligible under the development agency's new strategy to be announced in the International Policy Statement, Aileen Carroll, the International Cooperation Minister, told diplomats and reporters during a luncheon address at the Press Club on March 22. This is a slightly different message from what Ms. Carroll told reporters earlier this month, when she first announced CIDA would reduce the number of nations getting bilateral aid to between 20 and 30, from 155. At that time, she pointed to good governance as the top condition for eligibility of bilateral assistance. But this week she said about two dozen countries will be chosen based on three criteria of which "first and most important is poverty." She said: "We are going to focus our efforts on those countries experiencing the most acute poverty, generally meaning income levels of less than $1,000 (US) a year." A second criteria is the ability of a country to use aid effectively. She said good governance is "not a prerequisite" but that governments must demonstrate they've "started down that road." Finally, nations where Canada has a long legacy of involvement will also get priority, said Ms. Carroll. She assured diplomats that countries whose bilateral funding is slashed will see programs phased out over time. And the Minister noted that multilateral funding will still be an important way to get access to Canadian dollars. In the future, Canada's aid will focus on four priority areas: good governance, private sector development, health and education, she added. Finally, responding to a question by the Official International Cooperation Critic, Ted Menzies, the Minister said that she will deploy more CIDA officers from Headquarters to missions abroad. Mr. Menzies applauded the general idea of focussing Canada's foreign aid.

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