KAIROS reapplies for CIDA funding

  • December 18, 2009
{mosimage}KAIROS is willing to reapply for Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funding, but the ecumenical justice organization wants to know the new ground rules.

“We’ve already spent six months on this proposal and discussions around this proposal, understanding that this was an excellent proposal and we got an excellent evaluation right in the middle of our work,” said KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery.

At a brief meeting with CIDA Minister Bev Oda, KAIROS “didn’t learn very much,” Corkery said.

“It’s clear the Minister made the decision herself and that she is planning to make changes,” she said.

In a letter to Corkery, Oda said her decision was based on her new aid effectiveness agenda.

“This focus on priorities and results means that some proposals will not be supported even if they were in the past,” Oda wrote.

Oda’s new themes and priorities, however, were not announced until after KAIROS had submitted its application for 2009-2013, Corkery said.

KAIROS was asking for just over $7 million in CIDA funding for the next four years. A Nov. 30 call let KAIROS know the request was denied, ending 35 years of funding for the interfaith movement and its predecessors.

Reaction to the sudden defunding of KAIROS’s international programs has demonstrated deep and wide support for the organization, Corkery said.

“I’ve never seen so much energy and creativity and passion as I have recently from the whole KAIROS community — staff, board, network, partners. The work will continue,” she said. “We may not be able to fund partners in the south, but we will fight for that. And if we don’t have that, we will continue to do the work we’ve always done for human rights and sustainability — and we will do it with whatever resources we have.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu took up KAIROS’s cause at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The world needs more of KAIROS Canada,” declared the South African anti-apartheid Anglican bishop. “It would be an unparalleled setback for the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised if the voice and work of KAIROS in the global south is muted.”

Some organizations KAIROS has supported in the past have said they will be less able to protect people from murder, rape and human rights abuses without CIDA funding through KAIROS.

In the Philippines $144,000 in KAIROS funding over the last four years has helped people stand up to militarization and extrajudicial killings in Maguindanao province where 57 civilians were massacred on Nov. 23, said a spokesperson for the Ecumenical Voice, a KAIROS-funded organization of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and Solidarity Philippines.

“Human rights and peace remains a cause of church people,” KAIROS Philippines program co-ordinator Amy Chavez told The Catholic Register in an e-mail.

Third World Network – Africa has used its KAIROS money to organize communities and educate them about their rights when mining companies set up shop in poor, remote and sometimes wartorn regions. It’s also used the funding to push for more modern mining laws through the African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society. All that is in peril with the sudden funding cut, said TWN-Africa’s Abdulai Darimani.

The cuts will “undermine the emerging democratic culture sweeping across the continent,” Darimani wrote.

While KAIROS is willing to look at its international programs “through a different lens,” it’s not willing to abandon its traditional focus on human rights, said Corkery. KAIROS won’t switch to politically safe food aid programs and abandon community organizing and human rights education just to get funding, she said.

Corkery is asking Oda to give KAIROS funding to support a second application under the new priorities. She also wants CIDA staff to help KAIROS figure out whether its programs can fit the new priorities.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.