Learn more and engage others

One of the ways the Foodgrains Bank works to end hunger is by advocating for changes in public policies that improve access to food for families and communities.

We have long urged the Canadian government to provide greater support for small-scale farmers in developing countries. Such investments are an effective means to cut poverty and boost economies, strengthen women’s autonomy and decision-making power, improve nutrition, and support farmers in adapting to climate change.

With an increasing aid budget, Canada can do more to transform lives and make the world a better place.  But for Canadian aid to increase, our government needs to hear that Canadians care.

Use the resources below to learn more about Canadian aid and tell others what you’ve learned. Giving presentations at your church or workplace, hosting letter writing events, and handing out postcards are great ways to engage others!

The aid Canada provides is helping end global hunger and poverty

Canadian aid includes emergency assistance after natural disasters, educational programs, health support, clean water and sanitation, climate change adaptation, food assistance and agricultural support to developing countries. Canadian aid can be funnelled through multiple channels, including organizations such as the Foodgrains Bank, who work with local partners in developing countries to support those in need.

Did you know?
More than 60 percent of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten, costing the average Canadian household more than $1,100 per year.

The need for aid is great

  • Approximately one billion people still live in poverty.
  • Globally, there are 122 women aged 25-34 living in extreme poverty for every 100 men in the same age group.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 1 in every 13 children dies before the age of five, compared to 1 in 189 in countries like Canada— most of these deaths are from preventable causes.

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  • Why is aid important?
  • Don’t we already give a lot?
  • With federal budget deficits, can Canada afford to give more?
  • Can’t we just give aid more effectively instead of adding more?
  • Shouldn’t we focus on domestic problems instead?
  • Doesn’t aid just get wasted? How does Canada ensure money doesn’t end up in the hands of corrupt governments?
  • Doesn’t aid create dependence? Why can’t people help themselves?
  • What could be supported with a larger aid budget?
  • Are you asking for more money for Foodgrains Bank?
  • How will this benefit Canadians?
  • Why is it my role to advocate?
  • Does signing a postcard make a difference?

Aid, or ODA (Official Development Assistance), plays a central role in addressing global hunger and poverty. The aid from donor countries provides immediate assistance in times of crises, and includes investments in health, education, and economic opportunities for people who are poor or marginalized, especially women. Aid helps strengthen local governments to better serve the needs of their citizens. And aid empowers people in developing countries to speak up, tell their governments what they need and hold them accountable.

While aid is not the only tool that helps achieve these goals, it is the only tool with the primary objective of reducing global poverty.

Aid can help developing countries become more prosperous, reducing the risk of conflicts. It also helps communities become better prepared for natural disasters and a changing climate, reducing the need for humanitarian assistance and costly disaster responses.

Canada commits roughly $5 billion every year towards addressing poverty and inequality around the world. This is a large sum of money, but is only 1.7% of Canada’s budget and a small portion of Canada’s Gross National Income (GNI) at just 0.26%. Put another way, for every $100 that Canada earns as income, roughly 26 cents are given back to address global poverty. This is compared to an average 0.52% given by peer countries (France, Italy, USA, Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) and a globally agreed target of 0.7%.

Government departments must make tough decisions when balancing a range of priorities and funding requests for multiple federal programs, including aid. This is also true in other countries, including countries that provide international aid. Even with this wide range of priorities, countries with similar economies manage to give, on average, twice as much aid as Canada. As Canadians, we have the right and opportunity to inform government as to how we believe Canada should spend its limited resources.

We believe Canada can keep up with its peers, do its fair share, and dare to be leaders when it comes to providing aid that addresses global poverty.

Canada continues to improve the effectiveness of its aid program. Organizations, such as Canadian Foodgrains Bank, help Canada make its aid more effective at ending global hunger and poverty by sharing evidence and best practices, such as ensuring local communities are involved in decision-making.

The amount we give is also important. Global needs are great, and we can only be so effective with limited resources. Increasing aid will enable us to reach more people.

The challenges of poverty, inequality, and hunger also exist here in Canada, and the federal government has a responsibility to address the wellbeing of its citizens.

At the same time, Canada is part of a global community and the issues we grapple with at a global level touch lives in Canada too. We can address global challenges while also addressing problems here at home. We don’t need to wait until all of Canada’s problems are solved before we help those facing hunger, poverty, and inequality in other parts of our world.

Aid dollars are needed in some of the most conflicted and instable places in the world. Despite best efforts, it’s not always possible to ensure that all aid dollars get used efficiently and effectively.

That said, the Canadian government has committed to global accountability and transparency standards in its aid. It has taken steps to ensure aid dollars are used effectively, and that Canadians can track how aid dollars are being spent.

Furthermore, there’s lots of evidence showing the positive impacts of aid on development and raising standards of living.

It’s true that aid given poorly can increase the dependence on aid by countries or communities. But it’s also true that some of the world’s poorest countries are now far less reliant on aid than 10-15 years ago. Aid that creates opportunities for women and men to grow enough food to feed themselves and their families in a sustainable way and contribute to prosperous local economies can increase self-reliance now and into the future.

By working closely with Canadian development organizations and local partner organizations, who strive for sustainability and community involvement in decision-making, Canadian aid can build capacity and foster independence.

The Foodgrains Bank, along with many other organizations and researchers, have advocated for increased investments in agriculture, especially for small-scale farmers.

Canada has an ambitious new international assistance policy, with important goals around empowering women and improving women’s equality as an important pathway to reducing poverty and hunger around the world. It has also made global commitments toward reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. To meet these goals and commitments, more resources will be needed.

Investments in agricultural development are an important way Canada can improve the lives of those living in poverty, especially women. Canada’s investments can empower women to better access farming resources, strengthen farmers’ voices (including through farmer cooperatives and women’s organizations), and enable agricultural innovation. There is lots of evidence showing how investments in agriculture increases economic growth, improves nutrition, and helps communities adapt to a changing climate.

No, we’re not specifically asking for more money for Canadian Foodgrains Bank. We are thankful for ongoing support from the Canadian government to the Foodgrains Bank for its work in ending global hunger. But this is a big goal. We need the Canadian government to increase the aid budget to help make this goal a reality.

As Canadians, we care about helping others even when it may not directly benefit us. Canadian Foodgrains Bank strives to see an end to global hunger. We believe many Canadians feel the same way. We value compassion and want our government to be generous too.

We also believe that in helping to end global poverty we can create a more prosperous, fairer and hopeful world. This is good for all of us. It means more global security, a stronger global economy and more trade and investment opportunities for Canadians. It also reduces costs for responding to disasters and famines in the future.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we can use our voices to work towards justice around the world. As such, we have an opportunity to speak for those who are not so fortunate; whose identity, status, or political structures do not allow their voices to be heard.

There is also a clear Biblical basis for advocacy. Advocacy is using your voice to speak in support of another. When it comes to hunger, poverty, and inequality, these are often matters of justice, compassion, and healing relationships with other people. The Bible is filled with examples of advocates, such as Esther, Moses, and Jesus.

In Canada’s democratic system, it is important that the government’s choices represent constituents’ views (including yours!). Canada’s support for aid is decided by the federal government, including your Member of Parliament. To ensure your MP knows this issue is important to you, you can:

  • Sign a postcard
  • Use social media to demonstrate your support, #MoreCanada, #MoreAid4Ag
  • Write a letter to your MP, or the Minister for International Development
  • Phone your MP
  • Meet with your MP directly

Yes! Government officials have noted public support is a critical component if we want to increase the aid budget. The government has affirmed efforts by the Foodgrains Bank to raise public awareness and provide opportunities for Canadians to show their support for these  issues. Postcards and other public demonstrations of support are noticed by policymakers, and have encouraged Canada to remain focused on addressing global hunger over the years. Your postcard amplifies the message of thousands like you who are showing they care.

We need people like you to take action and let decision-makers know you care!

Additional Resources

Articles and Videos on:

  • Does Aid Work?
  • Canadian Aid
  • Global Poverty and Hunger

Brookings (2017): Does foreign aid work?

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014): How does foreign aid work? -US focused

Canadian Foodgrains Bank (2016): How agricultural research reduces poverty

Oxfam UK (2013): What has aid ever done for anyone? (Video)

Oxfam International (2010): Does aid work? (Video)

Brookings (2017): Global poverty is declining but not fast enough

Food and Agriculture Organization (2017): How close are we to #ZeroHunger?

United Nations (2018): Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

World Hunger Education Service (2017): Hunger Notes

Canadian Foodgrains Bank (2015): Watching the Sky for Rain Clouds: Farmers and climate change

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2018): Our World in Data (Video)

World Food Programme (2012): Hunger: The World’s Greatest Solvable Program (Video)

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