The following nugget was buried at the bottom of a follow-up CP report on how CIDA helped fund the Ugandan aid work of the virulently anti-gay Crossroads Christian Communications (in full PR damage control mode now that its homobigoted Evangelical slip is showing) to the tune of half a million dollars last year:
Francois Audet, director of the Montreal-based Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid, said he believes Crossroads is far from the only group with controversial opinions that receives CIDA money.
“There is, for sure, other hidden treasures, other organizations who do ideological propaganda with public funding from Canadian aid — and what is worrying is that CIDA does not check this,” Audet said in an interview.
Audet said that his own research on how CIDA allocates its funds shows that between 2005 and 2010, funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 per cent, while secular groups saw an increase of just five per cent.
“I have the clear impression — and I am not the only one in the scientific community — that behind this, there is a deliberate strategy to finance the groups ideologically close to the actual Conservative government,” he said.
Hey, careful now — publicly musing about hidden Harpercon agendas is almost guaranteed to give the Queensway set the serious vapours. The last thing we need on a Tuesday (or any other day for that matter) is an especially vapourous Canadian punditocracy. Their regular pinheaded emissions are gaseous enough as it is.
I highly doubt Ottawa’s atmosphere can handle any more pollution.
Related: To be fair, not all Jesus-friendly NGOs are on board the CIDA gravy train:
In the past few years [KAIROS], the Mennonite Central Committee and the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace have all seen CIDA funding cut:
CIDA’s shift away from working with long-time and often church-based development partners to financing private sector projects such as those of the mining companies has been in the works for several years.
In November 2009, CIDA cut off funding to the ecumenical social justice group KAIROS, which had been a long-time partner in development. Neither CIDA nor its minister Bev Oda would provide any explanation beyond saying that CIDA’s priorities had changed and KAIROS did not meet them.
Then in February 2012, CIDA turned down a proposal by the well-respected Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for $2.9 million for each of three years to provide food, water and income generation assistance for people in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Haiti, Bolivia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
In March 2012, it became apparent that CIDA had also cut off the Catholic organization Development and Peace (D&P). CIDA, which had provided the organization with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, chopped that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years.
That now-infamous taxpayer-subsidized luxury hotel switcheroo in Mother London? Small potatoes.
[A]nalysis by Fraser Reilly-King, a policy analyst at the non-profit Canadian Council for International Co-operation, shows substantial cuts to foreign aid in last month’s federal budget are aimed mainly at the same kind of underprivileged countries [that were removed from CIDA’s priority list in 2009] – the poorest places in the world. And funds for the better-off political darlings are mostly protected.
Reilly-King’s figures project, starting next year, a winnowing-away of funds for inter-national assistance from an all-time peak of $5 billion this year to $4.6 billion in 2014-15. Over the same period, the share of Gross National Income that Canada spends on aid will shrink to 0.25 per cent from 0.34 per cent, which is less than half the never-attained target set by former prime minister Lester Pearson in 1969.
Wait — it gets better:
The cuts will be felt by 13 cur-rent recipients, he says, eight of them in Africa. One of the countries to be cut off completely is China, a fully justified – if not overdue – move given its rapid economic expansion. But the others to lose out completely include Cambodia and Nepal, which are making progress but were late in catching the Asian prosperity wave, as well as dirt-poor Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Niger.
Yet Ukraine – which has been a priority country for years only because of strong lobbying by Canadians of Ukrainian descent – and fast-rising, upper-middle-income Peru and Colombia are unaffected.
Other countries to duck the axe are Bangladesh, which is very poor, and Vietnam and Indonesia, which are both making rapid progress on their own. Reilly-King points out all the unaffected countries are high on the Harper government’s list of places where it wants to see stronger trade ties.
There’s brazen, and brazen — Oda, proud Harpercon that she is, certainly earns the italicization (and then some):
In an interview with my Post- media colleague Elizabeth Payne earlier this year, Oda candidly conceded that she didn’t separate at all Canadian trade and foreign policy goals from our aid policy.
She also confirmed that CIDA, which has been moving away from its well-established, long-term partnerships with trusted and respected NGOs in the field, is moving more and more to partnerships with private sector partners in the mining and agricultural sectors.
Shorter Bev Oda: Let them eat little cakes — ooh, and freshen up my OJ while you’re at it!
Related: More from CBC’s The Current on the debate over CIDA partnerships.
Hooray for shock therapy in Afghanistan:
Senior British, US and local aid workers have described a number of problems [with reconstruction in Afghanistan] including bribery, profiteering, poor planning and incompetence. The overall effect has been to cripple the development effort structured under the Bush administration’s insistence on an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction.
“The major donor agencies operate on the mistaken assumption that it’s more efficient and profitable to do things through market mechanisms,” a senior American contractor working in Afghanistan told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “The notion of big government is a spectre for American conservatives and this [the reconstruction process] is an American conservative project.”
The contractor said the “original plan was to get in, prop up Karzai, kill al-Qaida, privatise all government-owned enterprises and get out. It wasn’t a development project, that wasn’t a concern. Development was an afterthought.
The Graun calls this “poor planning and incompetence.” Sorry, but “an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction” may be indeed reflect willful indifference and a shoddy understanding of what proper reconstruction of a failed state actually entails. But it goes well beyond ‘poor planning and incompetence;’ This is outright criminal negligence on the part of pathologically obsessive free-market ideologues who didn’t give a good goddamn about cleaning up the mess they made.
In other words, textbook disaster capitalism.
Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers
Around the world right now, one billion people are trapped in poor or failing countries. How can we help them? Economist Paul Collier lays out a bold, compassionate plan for closing the gap between rich and poor.
Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers
The Real News reports on the rising death toll and ongoing aid efforts in Myanmar (Burma) following the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Nargis:
- UN suspends aid flights to Myanmar after junta seizes supplies: NY Times. UPDATE: Reuters reports that the UN will resume aid flights and has appealed for more funds (h/t tata in comments):
The United Nations appealed for $187 million in aid on Friday to help 1.5 million victims in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar and said it would resume relief flights despite the military government’s seizure of food supplies.U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said initial pledges totaled about $77 million to provide water, food, medicine, shelter and other supplies to survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which killed tens of thousands of people.
“I think more pledges will follow,” Holmes told reporters after he addressed representatives of the 192 member states, saying he was confident the appeal for $187 million would be met. “The important thing is that the response is there.”
- Bloomberg News reports that “[a]nother storm heading toward Myanmar threatens to further disrupt aid distribution. The country will have rain, some of it torrential, in the next few days, according to forecaster AccuWeather.com.”
- Maps showing the areas devastated by Tropical Cyclone Nargis can be downloaded at the Information Technology for Humanitarian Assistance, Cooperation and Action website.
- Photographs of the aftermath in Yangon from Jay Saxon, Henry Webb and Wesley Hadden (also via The Lede). Hadden also decries the hypocrisy of the inital response to the crisis from the Bush administration (as expressed by First Lady Laura Bush):
“As a current resident of Yangon and a resident of New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, I was disgusted by Laura Bush’s comments in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. First of all, she was inaccurate in saying that the Burmese people had no warning. Everyone I know in Yangon was aware of the approaching storm because of a government warning. Schools, businesses, and government offices closed down early on Friday so people could prepare for the storm. Second, her comments were insensitive and tactless. It was brazenly insensitive to focus on criticizing the government when upwards of a hundred thousand people had just lost their lives and millions were without homes. It is tactless because insulting the Myanmar government is not the way to promote the cooperation necessary to provide relief to the millions in need. Finally, it is hypocritical. No one associated with the Bush administration has any right whatsoever to criticize a country on their disaster management policies, especially when it is one with a miniscule fraction of the resources available in the United States. Shame on you, Laura Bush”
- Even though aid flights have been (hopefully only temporarily) suspended (edit: see update), you can still make a secure donation to the World Food Programme’s Myanmar relief fund here. Donations can also be made to Red Cross/Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF’s fund for the immediate and long-term response to children in Myanmar.
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