USAID, Canada announce multi-million-dollar aid for the Caribbean
Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau speaks in Montreal on October 20, 2015 after winning the general elections. (Photo: AFP)

LOS ANGELES, California (CMC) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Canadian Government, have announced multi-million-dollar aid for Latin America and the Caribbean.

USAID Administrator, Samantha Power, announced about US$331 million in humanitarian and long-term development assistance to address food security and resilience in the region.

At the same time, Canada Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced over CAN$145 million (US$1 = CAN$1.2784) in aid across the hemisphere.

“Food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean is increasing after more than a year of inflationary pressures, rising energy and fuel prices, disruptions from the global pandemic, the ongoing impacts of climate change and extreme weather, and the impact of the war in Ukraine,” said Power at an event on the sidelines of the just-concluded Ninth Summit of the Americas.

“Countries that rely significantly on imports for food are particularly vulnerable to rising food costs, and many in the region are experiencing the highest rates of inflation and increases in food prices in more than ten years. Meanwhile, the region is highly exposed to disruptions in global fertilizer supply due to shortages and bans imposed by Russia, which, historically, has provided the majority of the region’s fertilizer,” she added.

Power said the US$331 million funding includes more than US$198 million of emergency food security programming and related assistance such as nutrition, health protection, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to provide “a holistic response.”

To address medium to long-term term food security and resilience measures in the region, she said more than US$132 million in Feed the Future funds, subject to US Congressional approval, will go towards resources that aim to help smallholder farmers in Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Peru improve productivity of high-value horticulture crops, increase incomes and bolster farmers’ capacity to withstand shocks like higher fertilizer prices and impacts of climate change.

Trudeau said on Friday that over CAN$145 million across the hemisphere will provide support in the following priority areas: CAN$67.9 million to promote gender equality; CAN$26.9 million to address irregular migration and forced displacement; CAN$31.5 million to support health and pandemic response; CAN$17.3 million for projects supporting democratic governance; and CAN$1.6 million to promote digital access and address disinformation.

The Canadian prime minister said CAN$1 million will support the production and dissemination of high-impact research that addresses inequalities faced by women and diverse populations.

He said these populations include Indigenous Peoples, African descendants, persons with disabilities, and LGBTI persons in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The project will be implemented through the Gender and Diversity Lab and the Gender and Diversity Knowledge Initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank Group.

Trudeau said CAN$2 million will strengthen the capacity of the Organization of American Member-States (OAS) – Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Panama, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago – to “prevent and investigate organized crime linked to the exploitation of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, particularly human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“The program also seeks to strengthen border management in the beneficiary countries in order to increase detection of the irregular movement of goods and people,” he said.

Trudeau added that CAN$2 million will strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s capacities to “effectively prevent and counter online child sexual abuse and exploitation and related crimes.”

He said the program will “effectively identify, investigate, prosecute, adjudicate and prevent online child sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons facilitated by information and communications technologies.”

The Canadian leader said CAN$10.9 million will be geared towards improving “comprehensive sexual and reproductive health”, including safe and legal abortions and post-abortion care for young women, especially adolescent girls, and “help ensure the fulfilment of sexual and reproductive rights in targeted districts of Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.”

Canada is also providing CAN$2.25 million to increase access to Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights services for Venezuelan refugees and migrants and their host community members in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Trudeau said CAN$200,000, to be implemented through the Pan American Health Organization, will strengthen the health sector capacity to respond to violence against women and girls, including women and girls from ethnic minority groups, migrant groups, and women and girls with disabilities in the Caribbean region.

In addition, he said CAN$3.2 million will support the OAS’ Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO) in strengthening the “institutional capacities of electoral bodies to achieve more effective and inclusive administration of electoral processes; and to reinforce the role of civil society, including women’s right organizations, in electoral processes and oversight.”

In addressing the political, structural and legislative barriers to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries, Trudeau said Canada is also providing CAN$2.4 million.

Additionally, he said his country is contributing CAN$1.7 million to DECO to enhance the “legitimacy and transparency of electoral processes in the region through support to Election Observation Missions carried out throughout the Americas.

“The project targets countries that invite the OAS-DECO to conduct observation missions by working with electoral management bodies to organize and support electoral processes that are inclusive, transparent and free from violence or manipulation,” Trudeau said.

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