Thoughts from an agricultural development gal in Ghana

Archive for June, 2010

ACT to increase Canada’s aid effectiveness!

Hey readers, Happy Friday!

This post has a bit of a different focus: Canada’s aid effectiveness. Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget that there are thousands (whoa!) of EWBers working hard in Canada to tackle the “other end” of the development problem: foreign aid. This is hugely important and has a MASSIVE effect on the work we’re able to do here in Ghana. I’m seeing more and more every day about how CIDA affects the development environment in Ghana, especially for MoFA – they’re one of the major funders and could be doing a lot of things better (oh hey CIDA!).

That’s where you come in. As part of the new ACT campaign (which you can check out here), EWB has a goal of sending 1000 letters to our local MPs across the country, calling on our elected officials to ACT in making Canada’s aid more effective. ACT stands for Accountable, Creative and Transparent – three qualities that can dramatically improve the effectiveness of our foreign aid. From the website:

“We are asking Canada to ACT on aid effectiveness – making our aid more accountable, creative and transparent. In short, it’s not what we fund, but how we fund it. Good aid and development are stifled by skewed incentives and weak systems. The ACT agenda tackles several of the core issues that undermine successful aid programs, focusing on increasing the impact of aid dollars through a series of evidence-based, thoughtful reforms. It outlines three specific areas of action that we believe all parties can agree on, and that Canadians can get behind, in the leadup to the G8 meeting in Canada.


  1. Role model our good track record of meeting international promises by creating a standard for tracking and reporting on major international aid commitments, committing to use it, and inviting other G8 countries to follow our lead. Such a standard should monitor progress through the life-cycle of all promises, publicizing this information along with interim progress reports to enable citizen groups and media to hold governments accountable to their promises.
  2. Establish an expert, independent, arms-length development evaluation agency to assess the results from Canadian aid. These results should be shared with a) Canada’s Parliament; b) the Canadian public; c) our partner country’s government; and d) local civil society in the country’s where we provide aid.


  1. Set up a $150million venture-focused Implementation Innovation Fund to fund the expansion of promising initiatives. This would complement the research-focused Development Innovation Fund and provide later stage financing to take ideas to scale. The evaluation criteria of Implementation Innovation Fund should be the adoption/seeding of their innovations into regular poverty reduction projects (or the expansion of for-profit pro-poor ventures) worth 1 billion dollars a year within 5 years.


  1. Join many of the world’s leading donor organizations by signing on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative, a new initiative that aims to make information about aid spending easier to access, use and understand.
  2. Publish comprehensive, openly available data about all CIDA projects and programs – including the results of all evaluations – on its website. This information should allow the user to track any project from the initial proposal through all stages to project implementation.”

EWB members across the country are working hard to realize this goal. In addition to encouraging you to sign the petition, which can be found on the website, I’d like to challenge everyone to get involved! Here’s the challenge: convince 5 of your closest friends/family to write a letter about the ACT campaign to their local MP. And of course, write one yourself!

Here are some of the essential elements to include in your letter:

  • Your name and address, so the MP knows you’re writing from his/her constituency
  • Why you’re writing (to call on the MP to support EWB’s campaign to make Canada’s aid more effective)
  • A short summary of what ACT is all about (again, website here)
  • Pick one action item from the website that you really like and describe it in more detail
  • Ask for them to follow up if they have any questions or response to your letter
  • Tell them that they’ll be joining the majority of their peers, who EWB has already met with, in supporting this initiative!

And a template to help you out:

A few key things to remember about letters to MPs:

  • Handwritten letters are most effective – if you can, write out a personal letter and mail it in!
  • Emailing your letter is still fine, but not as good as a handwritten letter!
  • Write from your perspective – make a personal connection to the issue and, where possible, to the person you are writing to as well
  • Try to keep your letter to one page, two at maximum
  • You can find your MP’s address and email at:
  • Be sure to include all of your contact information so the person you are writing can reply.

Finally, if you take the leap and write a letter, or get anyone else to write a letter, please let me know! We’re trying to track the number of letters that get sent to MPs.

Alright, that’s it for this sunny Friday in Tamale! I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing weekend, with a bit of political advocacy thrown in, just for kicks. After all, it’s your government – you have the right to tell them what to do with your money, and to hold them accountable!