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Ethiopia top recipient of Canadian foreign aid, new CIDA data shows


Secondary school students in the courtyard at the AGOHELD orphanage, hospital, training centre and school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Move over Afghanistan and Haiti. Canada has a new foreign aid darling.

For the past decade, troubled Afghanistan and Haiti have easily been the top recipients of Canadian aid. But new statistics released by the Canadian International Development Agency show there’s a new aid order.

During 2011-2012, Ethiopia received $207 million worth of Canadian aid, tops among recipient countries, and up about $31 million from the previous year.

Aid to Afghanistan plunged to $163 million from more than $300 million the previous year, while aid to Haiti fell to $204 million, a drop of $149 million.

The Canadian International Development Platform, hosted by the North-South Institute, has posted a smart explanatory piece about the changes, noting that while Canadian foreign aid climbed from $2.47 billion in 2000 to $5.67 billion in 2011, a controversial government-imposed freeze on foreign aid took place last year, when total spending flat-lined at $5.7 billion.

Canada has been widely criticized for reducing aid to Africa, but the most recent CIDA statistics are interesting. Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana are among the top five aid recipients in 2010, joining Haiti and Afghanistan. Africa, in fact, received 42 per cent of all foreign aid in 2012, up from 38 per cent the previous year.

One stat that's sure to draw attention from foreign aid critics: Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) per gross national income ratio slipped from 0.34 per cent to 0.32 per cent. By contrast, the U.K. has pledged to give more than 0.7 per cent to developing countries.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead


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There should not be any aid given to anyone outside Canada until we have no one living under the poverty line, our cities require infrastructure and our education and health systems require increased spending. I have no idea why any politician would even want to spend this money - they get no votes from Ethiopia or Haiti. Keep the money in Canada. Not to mention that foreign aid only damages the development of these countries - they need to progress through their own efforts and small business development. If we send $100mil worth of cord to Ethiopia, we're damaging the ability of their local corn producers to compete (Ethiopians would rather have free Canadian corn than cheap Ethiopian one) - Macroeconomics 101.

We are giving aid to Afganistan? Are our politicians out of their minds? Afganistan makes billions upon billions from drug trande and can buy Canada from coast to coast. Give aid to the poor, not to the rich drug lords of Afganistan

Was once a CIDA country desk officer and have worked on UN, Commonwealth and NGO projects on four continents.

Most aid is poorly designed poor focused and has little to no long term significance and is rarely self sustaining generating revenues to support activities.

It is better to concentrate aid in nations with certain infrastructure and ability to move out of their hardship than to pour more in nations with high levels of corruption, class division and ineffective governments.

Surely charity begin at home.

I am a pensioner in Canada struggling to get by on a tiny pension and discover the government is handing out $5.7 billion to other countries - for what?

To assuage some kind of guilt. Where is the guilt for seniors struggling here.

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