The National Post recently published two articles about Canada’s aid effort in Afghanistan, with both suggesting that tax dollars have been wasted in that enterprise. As someone who acted as a senior advisor with CIDA, serving with Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar in 2008 and 2009, I believe it’s important to set the record straight.
In his Oct. 13 front-page article (“A ‘total’ waste; Previously unreleased review blasts Canada’s Afghan aid”), reporter Tom Blackwell cited “heavily redacted” consultant reports, and the views of one former CIDA staffer, to the effect that Canada’s development efforts were a complete failure, lacked innovation and were not in line with Afghan priorities.
In an accompanying article that appeared online, Jonathan Kay argued that Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan were hampered by ideological divides between the Department of Foreign Affairs and CIDA, and that aid cannot be done well in a conflict zone.
These articles leave readers with an inaccurate picture of Canada’s aid efforts. The truth is that the seeds Canada has planted in Kandahar are only just beginning to break through the ground.