Peer reviews of DAC members

Canada’s development aid: focused and effective but should be more generous and efficient


19/06/2012 - A new review of Canada’s aid programme commends the country’s strong stand on human rights, its co-operation with developing countries and its effective efforts in Afghanistan and Haiti. The OECD’s Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programmes of Canada also notes that the amount of its aid is falling and, despite some improvement, its system is still cumbersome.

From 2001 to 2010, Canada doubled its aid. But from 2010 to 2011, aid fell by just over 5% to USD 5.3 billion, or 0.31% of Gross National Income (GNI) and the recent federal budget cuts off another 7%, or USD 389 million by 2014-15. The Review recommends that Canada increase its aid as soon as possible and work to meet the international target of 0.7% of GNI.

The Review cites two other examples of ‘best practice’ which could be followed by other donors. Canada has opened its trade to 48 least developed countries – allowing them duty free and quota free access to Canadian markets for everything except dairy products, poultry and eggs. Canada has also made good progress on untying its aid, allowing developing countries to purchase locally and at the best prices. About 80% of Canada’s total aid is untied and that figure reaches 99% for least developed countries.

Overall, the Review notes that, ‘Canada lacks a clear top-level statement that sets out its vision for development co-operation’ and that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is modernising but needs further streamlining. In some situations – the civil-military co-operation in Afghanistan and the humanitarian efforts in Haiti – co-ordination amongst the relevant Canadian ministries, backed by the necessary funds and human resources, ensured that Canada’s development efforts were efficient and effective. Using these cases as an example, Canada should devise a whole-of-government approach to all of its development programmes.

These peer reviews are drafted by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee which is comprised of the world’s major donors. The Committee’s peer review process aims to strengthen development co-operation, holding donors accountable for honouring their policy commitments, and sharing good practice to improve future program design and delivery.
The Peer Review of Canada took place over a six month period, including visits to Ottawa and Ethiopia, culminating on 15 May 2012 with the DAC peer review meeting in Paris. France and the Netherlands acted as peer examiners, with supporting analysis provided by the OECD Secretariat.

For more information on Canada’s development policies and programmes, journalists can contact Karen.Jorgensen in the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate: or by telephone +33 (0) 1 45 24 94 61.


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