Created by the Canadian government in 1968 as the successor to the federal External Aid Office, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) describes itself as “Canada’s lead agency for development assistance” whose mandate is to “reduce poverty and … contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world.” In June 2004, the Canadian government allocated more than $2.2 billion of its federal budget to CIDA for projects involving social development, humanitarian assistance, environmental sustainability, and governance.
CIDA identifies seven priority campaigns:
Governance: CIDA supports its partner countries’ efforts to promote “democratization, human rights, the rule of law, public-sector capcity building, and conflict prevention.”
Health: This program assists countries “to improve health outcomes, particularly among the poorest, through a focus on: preventing and controlling high-burden, communicable, poverty-linked diseases (especially HIV/AIDS); strengthening the capacity of health systems; improving infant and child health; strengthening sexual and reproductive health; and improving food security.”
Education: This program “supports initiatives that improve the quality, safety, and relevance of basic education; remove barriers that prevent closing the gender gap in education; provide education to prevent HIV/AIDS; and provide education for girls and boys in conflict, post-conflict, and/or emergency situations.”
Environmental Sustainability: “The poor, who depend most directly on their natural environment for food, shelter and income, are … at greatest risk from external factors such as climate change. … ”
Private Sector Development: This campaign seeks to cut in half the proportion of people living in poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015.
Gender Equality: “… [M]ost women worldwide … continue to have fewer rights, lower education and health status, less income, and less access to resources and decision-making than men. … CIDA promotes women’s equal participation in decision-making, full realization of their human rights, and equal access to and control over the resources and benefits of development.”
Millennium Development Goals: CIDA seeks to “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; [and] ensure environmental sustainability … by 2015.”
Africa and the Middle East receive about one-fourth of all CIDA funding. While CIDA professes a commitment to “focus on creating an environment favorable to sustainable development and peace” in the Middle East, much of its funding is earmarked for groups with ideological and political agendas that are hostile to the state of Israel. These organizations include Alternatives, BADIL, Doctors without Borders, Inter-Church Lutheran World Relief and Justice, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Medecins du Monde, the Mennonite Central Committee, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision.