Actions Speak Louder Than Words

To act is to show commitment beyond promises.

To act is to have the courage to bring ideas into reality and risk the consequences.

To act is to take a stand.

In many ways, to act is to be a leader – so why is it that the leaders of our country and across the world fail to turn their words into action?

Reading about the commitments that the Canadian government is making to reduce climate change or improve global maternal health are inspiring for the hour it takes a reader to finish the newspaper and place it in a recycling bin. Past that hour, our government’s actions remain and with that, the emptiness of words which are not followed by actions to support them.

But to act can be foolhardy. It is not enough to simply take action, but to act well. This is why EWB is asking the Canadian government to ACT on aid effectiveness. We are asking the Canadian government to be:


CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) should start to systematically and publically track/report on all international commitments we make. Further to that, the government should establish an arms-length organization to evaluate CIDA-funded projects instead of doing the evaluation themselves.

Working in Malawi, I have witnessed projects being organized to placate donors instead of beneficiaries and I have seen empty buildings where organizations used to distribute aid but left unexpectedly without explanation or consultation with the village. In order to be effective, international aid needs to be accountable to the people it is intended for – the poorest of the poor. We are asking CIDA to become publically accountable.


CIDA should set up a fund to finance innovation in the implementation of development initiatives, to complement on-going research of a more academic nature.

There is a parable in international development that tells the story of a group of villagers enjoying a picnic by the side of the river when they notice a baby floating by.  The villagers immediately jump into the river to rescue the baby. As they pulling the baby out of the water, they see another baby floating down the stream, and then another, and another. Each time the villagers jump into the river to rescue the baby. Eventually one villager begins to walk upstream and sees that there is a man throwing babies into the water.

What we need is for our government to commit to being creative, to look beyond the obvious solution of pulling the babies out of the water and find out what is going on upstream.


CIDA should publish comprehensive data (including financial data) about all of its projects and programs. This data should be available on the CIDA website.

Given that Canadian tax-payer money is being invested. CIDA has a responsibility to the Canadian public to be transparent about how and where the funds are being spent.

For more information on the ACT Campaign visit

I am taking action in this campaign. I have already written my MPs and made a personal commitment to ensuring that 25 of my friends, family or colleagues do the same. If this message resonates with you, then help me to ask our government to ACT by writing a letter to your MP, downloading the petition at, and letting me know you have taken action.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tom Hansen on July 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Hey. Great post. I really like the comment you made about placating donors instead of beneficiaries. Reminds me of one of your first posts about fixing a well rather than drilling a new one. I think it is so true… and frustrating.


  2. Posted by David McColl on July 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Lauren.


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