(OTTAWA) The government does not know if the $3.5 billion donated annually under its Feminist International Assistance Policy is yielding the expected results. Not only are the Global Affairs Department’s indicators missing the mark, project documentation is also poorly managed, according to the Auditor General.

Karen Hogan finds that 24 of the 26 indicators developed by the Department of Global Affairs to judge progress “did not measure results”. The ministry is therefore unable to “fully account for” the effect of funded projects.

For example, it did not measure girls’ school attendance after the construction of toilets to compensate for the lack of sanitation facilities. They are often absent from school during their periods because they do not have access to toilets. Hogan notes that this is “one of the measures outlined in the policy to track success.”

Another example is that the ministry provides the number of people who have benefited from nutritional support in certain countries, but not the result of the programme, which would rather be measured by the improvement in the health or life expectancy of the beneficiaries.

“The Department’s reports contained information that accurately represented some of the Department’s work, but did not paint a complete picture of the results,” the Auditor General points out.

Ms. Hogan also notes “significant weaknesses” in the management of records, a recurring problem already identified in 2021. The department was unable to provide all of the documentation requested by the Auditor General. Either the staff had not systematically submitted the data for their projects, the retention and updating of the information was deficient, or some of the information requested was unrecoverable since it was on the computers of the employees who had since left.

The Auditor General was able to obtain complete documentation for 50 of the 60 projects required. For one of them, the ministry was unable to provide any documents.

She recommends that Global Affairs Canada improve the way it manages information and modify its performance indicators, which the department is committed to doing.

The Feminist International Assistance Policy was adopted in 2017 during the first term of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. It aims to promote gender equality as well as empower women and girls. Half of the sums are intended for projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Canada is ranked first among countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with Iceland for the percentage of international aid allocated to gender equality.