Thursday, August 30, 2007

Senlis exposes CIDA's lies

The Gobe and Mail's Gloria Galloway has a short, hard-hitting summary of findings from the Senlis Council, following the release of that NGO's latest report on the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). (See her article here; the Senlis report is here in pdf.)

Background: Some months ago, the Senlis Council stated that CIDA's efforts in Afghanistan had amounted to very little on-the-ground aid being delivered in that country. In response, CIDA invited Senlis to examine all of their projects there, supplying them with a list of accomplishments.

What did the Senlis people find?

What they found this month were an overcrowded and filthy hospital in Kandahar City that could provide few services to patients; refugee camps that had gone without food aid for 1 1/2 years; a construction project that employed child labour, and a displaced population struggling to survive.

Senlis director Norine MacDonald explains: "We were not able to see any substantial impact of CIDA's work in Kandahar and, as a matter of fact, we saw many instances of the extreme suffering of the Afghan people".

One of the projects CIDA boasted about was a $350,000 grant to UNICEF to establish a maternity wing in a Kandahar hospital. But Senlis observers could find nothing of the sort. "[W]e could not find evidence of CIDA's work, or CIDA-funded work that matched the information given to us by CIDA", explained Senlis director Norine MacDonald.

"The maternity project was supposed to have been operating in a temporary tent on hospital grounds. But the tent was empty on the day the Senlis researchers arrived. And the next day it was gone... Ms. MacDonald said she was told that [the maternity project] had simply never existed."

By way of explanation, Senlis finds that CIDA has too few employees on the ground in Afghanistan (three Canadian and eight locals), while those who are there are extremely limited in their mobility, due to the dismal security situation.

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