I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 17: Conclusion: Rethinking Canadian Development Cooperation — Towards Renewed Partnerships?” by David R. Black, Stephen Brown and Molly den Heyer as the three editors. Their conclusion, and the title of the book, is that things are a-changing when it comes to Canadian aid, and whether it is under Harper’s governance or over a longer time period, it is time to rethink Canadian aid as a result. Except I don’t think that is the conclusion I get from a more critical review of the text. Bear in mind that I am not reading it as an academic, I’m reading and critiquing it from the perspective of a manager — does it hold any resonance for me, does it identify the key factors at play, does it ring true? » Read the rest
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 16: Undermining Foreign Aid: The Extractive Sector and the Recommercialization of Canadian Development Assistance” by Stephen Brown. In the words of the author, “This chapter argues that the new initiative [of funding mining projects] was emblematic of a new turn in Canadian development assistance — namely, the explicit recommercialization of aid. Canadian trade interests have always underpinned Canadian aid to a certain extent (Morrison 1998). However, a clear trend in the 2000s, under Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and the Stephen Harper minority government, had been to move away from commercial self-interest.”
As I started the chapter, I suspected I was going to have a problem with the thesis. In short, I don’t think it’s true, not even in the sense that it could be part of a trend — I disagree that it is commercialization let alone re-commercialization, nor do I think it is part of a trend as Brown sees it. » Read the rest
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 15: Charity Begins at Home: The Extractive Sector as an Illustration of Changes and Continuities in the New De Facto Canadian Aid Policy” by Gabriel C. Goyette. I’ve addressed some of the issues already in my review of Chapter 7 (Critique of Rethinking Canadian Aid – Chapter 7 – Continental Shift) so it will be interesting to see how far Goyette goes.
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Of the many changes that have occurred, two stand out in the literature on Canadian aid for their importance. First, the government has placed programmatic emphasis on aid effectiveness, which has led to an overly technical conception of practices. Second, it has instrumentalized aid policy and made it subservient to broader foreign policy, notably through changes in CIDA’s countries of focus and the criteria for selecting them, the emergence of priority themes with a strong impact on disbursements, a religious and security turn in aid delivery, an emphasis on humanitarian assistance, the marginalization of gender issues, and the growth of the role of the private sector, both in policy making and in practice.
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 14: Canada and Development in Other Fragile States: Moving beyond the ‘Afghanistan Model'” by Stephen Baranyi and Themrise Khan.
Like previous chapters on fragile states and security (Critique of Rethinking Canadian Aid – Chapter 13 – Canada’s Fragile States Policy and Critique of Rethinking Canadian Aid – Chapter 8 – Preventing, Substituting or Complementing the Use of Force?), the chapter starts with the same fallacy of the NGOs it cites, that “pure aid” (whatever that means) is corrupted by “security objectives”, apparently because peace/stability/development are somehow separate entities. Equally, relying on one of the author’s previous work, they come to the former conclusion and starting premise that high effectiveness of aid is correlated with low degree of “joint approaches” (securitization)…without explaining that perhaps the real variable is that areas of high instability that create the demand for a higher level of “joint approach” are the areas where aid is likely to be least effective (i.e. » Read the rest
I am doing a series of articles on the book “Rethinking Canadian Aid” (University of Ottawa Press, 2015), and now it’s time for “Chapter 13: Canada’s Fragile States Policy” by David Carment and Yiagadeesen Samy. I have to confess upfront that as a public sector manager, I have a lot of trouble with this chapter. Overall, they basically say it has strong conceptual challenges, yet then conclude investments were squandered when the focus shifted from one area to another.
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The complexity of dealing with, and responding to, fragile situations is reflected in the way CIDA has generally allowed “a thousand flowers to bloom,” to support partner organizations, academics, and NGOs that work on state fragility. Indeed, when it first appeared on the scene, as an idea in search of a policy, just around 9/11, the concept of state fragility brought with it a new and complex understanding of how donors and civil society interact and use analysis to support their policies.