CIDA/DFAIT MERGER 1
The merger between the Canadian International Development Agency andthe Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade brings withit various implication on all the involved stakeholders.Understanding these implications will make it easy to deal with themerger in the most effective ways for a smooth transition. Peoplereceived news of the merger with mixed feelings. After 45 years ofservice, CIDA will no longer operate as an autonomous body. Those whosupport the decision echo that there will be an effective integrationof trade diplomacy. It will also aid Canada in maintaining a uniformand consistent international image. Those who are against the ideaclaim that the independence of CIDA was imperative for it to carryout its roles effectively. Merging it with DFAIT would affect itsoperations. The minister for international development should worktowards solving some of the issues arising from the merger.
First, on the domestic front, there are expected job losses. Althoughthere has been an assurance that the merger will not result in somepeople going home due to lack of engagement, it is clear that therewill be no duplication of roles. Some people will have to lose theirpositions involuntarily. The minister should come out clear on theissue rather than burying his head in the sand while knowing too wellthat there will be a loss of jobs even though a few.
NGOs have been important stakeholders of CIDA. The merger will resultin CIDA budget cuts since it will not be operating as an independentinstitution. The NGOs that were dependent of CIDA will have theirfunding curtailed, and they are likely to explore other sources. Theminister should prepare them in advance to prevent them from makingbudgetary plans as they used to when they relied on CIDA. The NGOswill have to adapt to the new changes by looking for alternativefunding. To maintain a clear international image, the minister shouldnot hesitate to bring them to the new terms.
Also, the minister should capitalize on the new role of the merger.In developing countries, there happens to be a litany ofnon-governmental organizations claiming to address any problem thatthe less fortunate communities have. However, the new merger shouldbe more objective on particular countries rather than funding manyNGOs with little or no effect on the beneficiaries. The CIDA policyfocused on some basic issues affecting members from the poorcountries including maternal, child health education and foodsecurity. The minister should expand the interests of the merger byfocusing on a specific set of countries on the basis of genuine needrather than commercial interests. The move will curtail sprinklingaid to all the Canada’s friends in the developing world and focuson quality development in selected countries.
It is unclear how long the integration will take to be fullyeffective. However, the faster it happens, the better will it be forboth the country and the beneficiaries of foreign aid. The ministershould focus on the issue of cooperation, funding and a comprehensivepolicy that unifies the two bodies. The activities performed by thetwo independent bodies before the merger should be restructured toavoid duplication or the entire scraping off some roles.
The merger comes with several advantages. First, it will strengthenCanadian aid program. Every year, CIDA spend close to $4 billion torun aid programs in developing countries. Despite this philanthropicmove, there have been complaining from the international community oflack of cooperation between CIDA and their Canadian internationalbodies. Sometimes, the priority of the Canadian government concerningforeign funding may be different from those of CIDA. The result hasbeen criticism extended toward the by Merging it with DFAIT willprovide a platform for a shared understanding of the problems in therecipient countries and a consequent prioritization conceived from asingle source.
Secondly, as outlined in the Canadian Economic Action Plan of 2013, amerger between the country’s arm of development and its tradepolicy department could result in an improved policy making andcoherence. The consequent result of effective policies will be theimplementation of viable development projects in the countries thatreceive foreign aid. The changing trends in the developing countriesrequire the adoption of security, trade, and development policy. Forexample, in the sub-Saharan Africa, some beneficiaries are marred byinternal civil wars. Development in these countries requires anapproach that accommodates the issue of security and viabledevelopment. Merging the two bodies, therefore, will bring on boardthe development agenda of CIDA and the DFAIT international policyinitiative.
However, there will be a disadvantage in the international arena thatwill arise from the merger concentrating on individual states ratherthan on the world poor. The British formed DFID used the sameapproach to focus on specific countries. The result of their actionswas a publicized perception that the country was giving aid on adiscriminative basis. However, unlike in the past when the countrygave little funding to a big number of countries, the new move gaverise to more effective development projects than before. The ministerfor international affairs should not bow to the internationalpressure due to the possible media luminary on the country’sdecision to create the merger and concentrate on specific countries.Canada cannot address all the problems faced by the developingcountries. Instead of sprinkling resources on short-term projectsthat may not have a significant impact on the lives of the poor, afew well-funded projects can make milestones for development in a fewrecipient countries.
There are specific issues that the minister should address for themerger to achieve the desired goals. The time taken for the twoinstitutions to merge their functions should be limited. Thedevelopment projects funded by the government should not face delaysas the new body restructures itself. Also, the country needs tomaintain a positive international image despite concentrating its aidinto specific countries. The country should bring to all thenon-governmental organizations receiving grants from CIDA of thestructure and mandate of the new body. The idea may help inpreventing them painting a negative image of Canada in the developingcountries. DFATD’s mandate will focus on qualitative development inthe recipient countries. The minister for international affairsshould see to it that the body kicks off on a high note to exude anearly positive image and gain the support of other developmentagents. Although some critics may view it is a move to kill fundingin some countries, it is a gateway for poverty reduction througheffective development projects in the targeted countries.