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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Canada is "near the bottom of the pack" when it comes to aid transparency - End the Silence On Aid

I recently came across a very interesting article on which focuses on the shortcomings of the Canadian government when it comes to disclosing information on how the government chooses who it funds to lead international development projects.

"The world is dividing itself into donors who hold forth an open model of evidence, accountability and, above all, transparency, and those who cling to a model of patronage, ideology and opacity"

Unfortunately Canada has proved to reside on the latter side of the equation. Out of 22 countries evaluated by Publish What You Fund on overall aid transparency, Canada ranked 15th. "For a country and a government that prides itself on accountability and transparency, it’s a damning assessment."

The International Aid Transparency Initiative has suggested that in order for governments to provide citizens with data on aid a one time cost of $50 000-$500 000 would be incurred. A cost that will end up saving Canadian taxpayers double to triple that amount. "Part of these savings would come just from reducing bureaucracy. Making data publicly available would eliminate the need for civil servants to respond to duplicate information requests from international organizations, other governments and Canadian organizations. Instead, the relevant information could just be downloaded. It’s the kind of efficiency we expect from our government".

More important than financial savings, increased transparency will allow Canada to measure its effectiveness. It will be much easier to compare projects, learn what works and what does not, and make changes accordingly. " Engineers Without Borders, for example, regularly publishes a “failure report” in which it outlines which of its projects didn’t work and why. This honest, open and evidence-based approach to development is exactly what we need to demand of our government".

So there you have it. Canada has the means and the information to make a positive change and to drastically improve aid and international development transparency. The benefits of this shared information will not only please taxpayers it will save us money, money that could be donated to disaster relief campaigns, world hunger initiatives, and those who truly need it. So lets get to it Canada!

GlassFrog Blogger Jessica 

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