What's New at Engineers Without Borders

Oct 18 2011 @ 10:26

10,000 Canadians Ask For IATI

PHOTO: EWB Canada members at the University of Saskatchewan erect a metaphorical "black box" to represent Canada's current foreign aid spending disclosures. IATI will make all spending public and transparent. Photo Courtesy Engineers Without Borders Canada - University of Saskatchewan Chapter.

Some sent postcards, Some sent emails, but in total, over 10,000 Canadians asked their MPs and Minister Bev Oda to sign on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) today, and to make Canada's aid more effective and more transparent.

The 24 hour blitz saw events held in 18 cities from coast to coast with a social media campaign centred around ewb.ca/yourvoice, where people could email their MP and Minister Oda with the click of a button. For most of the day, Canadians were submitting letters at a rate of one per minute, nearly crashing the website twice as its servers struggled to handle the volume of traffic.

The campaign is the latest in a year long push by Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB), leading up to the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF) in Busan, South Korea in November. In total EWB has collected nearly 20,000 signatures and letters from Canadians asking for IATI.

"The results speak for themselves - Canada wants IATI," says James Haga, Director of Advocacy for EWB. "IATI is definitely a win for Canada, and a win for the developing nations that we're helping with our foreign aid. There's literally no downside."

IATI is a voluntary agreement that sees participating nations publish what they fund using a standard format, enabling public scrutiny of funding decisions, analysis, coordination of aid and transparency that helps root out corruption abroad.

"It really is a common sense solution, and we're confident that the government will see that fact, plus Canadian's enthusiasm for IATI, and sign on to the agreement at the HLF in November."

All signs point to Haga being right. The federal government has invited EWB to present the case for IATI to the Parliamentary Finance Committee as part of their consultations for the 2012 Federal Budget, and has already taken steps towards greater transparency with the launch of an open data portal where Canadians can search all projects funded by our foreign aid. IATI is a logical next step that adds the benefits of global coordination and greater analysis.

More Coverage from:

ipolitics.ca: Canada should sign treaty to improve foreign aid transparency: NGO

Embassy Magazine: Canada Still Falling Short on Aid Transparency

People who want to lend their voice to the thousands asking for IATI can do so now at ewb.ca/yourvoice.


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