Here is a press release in which CIDA Minister Bev Oda announces further steps to achieve aid effectiveness. There is also a backgrounder.  This document is a must read for any organization receiving CIDA funds or hoping to one day.  There is a lot in this document and it will be interesting to see if practically this makes any real difference at CIDA.

There was a lot of concern when the 20 “countries of focus” were annouced.  It is quite clear from this document that “focus” is not exclusive and that 50% will be spent in other countries that are eligible for ODA.  Many were concerned that countries excluded from the “countries of focus” list would be dropped completely and that was not the case.

Also CIDA has three priority themes as announced in 2009: increasing food security, securing the future of children and youth, and sustaining economic growth. These are pretty broad themes so there was not as much concern about them and how it will effect funding but clearly if only 80 percent of the partnership investments align with these themes there is still a lot of flexibility for other funding.

“The new “Partnerships with Canadians” will streamline the application process and reduce the administrative burden for project applications, leaving more money for real development work on the ground.”  I remember sitting through a 3 day workshop on how to apply for VSF funding (maximum 500,000) and thinking to myself that this is a lot more complicated than necessary. 

The press release talks about “The Partners for Development Program, which will fund the most meritorious proposals put forward by Canadian organizations to deliver development results on the ground. This program creates enhanced opportunities for small and large development organizations to undertake focused and results-oriented development programming.” 

There is a new “Global Citizens Program” – not sure what this will be but will be interesting to find out. 

It is also interesting to note:  “The annual budget remains unchanged, and existing agreements will continue to be honoured.”

In the backgrounder it discusses the Partners for Development Program and the criteria for selecting partners.  Here are the criteria;

“•Sound governance?Organizations must be financially sound and have strong governance structures, including clear strategic development vision, fiscal oversight and management capacity, as well as transparent decision-making.

•Support of Canadians?Organizations must demonstrate support of Canadians, expressed and reflected by the proportion of the organization’s resources from non-governmental revenue, number of volunteers and members. Canadian institutions such as universities, colleges, and medical institutions that have the expertise and ability to enhance development work using Canadian value-added attributes can contribute to Canada’s development efforts.

•Relevance to CIDA’s mandate and coherence with Canadian government policy?Proposals for funding support must contribute to CIDA’s mandate of poverty reduction. In addition, they must be consistent with Canadian government policy.

•Results?Organizations should have a track record of achieving sustainable results effectively and efficiently. They must also have relevant geographic and thematic expertise. Proposed initiatives must identify relevant and sustainable development results and outcomes, be technically sound, and have appropriate performance measurement and risk management frameworks. The proposal must indicate how it will appropriately integrate equality between women and men, environmental sustainability, and governance considerations and outcomes.

•Development effectiveness?Organizations must adhere to the development effectiveness principles for civil society organizations recognized in the Accra Agenda for Action. Elements of development effectiveness include:
?Coordination of civil society efforts with government plans and programs
?Greater coordination and collaboration among partners and other actors in the field to improve synergies
?Continued focus on results, ensuring partners’ initiatives are locally owned and respond to their partners’ priorities with shared accountability for the achievement of related results
?Exit strategy that ensures results achieved are sustainable
Organizations must provide training, as appropriate, to make sure local organizations have the capacity to lead on the development and delivery of the projects.”

Will be interesting to see if CIDA delivers or funds programs to help organizations with the capacity building needed for many to meet these standards.  People are not born knowing about “governance”, “performance measurement and risk management frameworks” etc.