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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Considering the social and cultural dimensions of development : an analysis of the use of social impact assessment at the Canadian International Development Agency Pierre-Pierre, Valérie


CIDA, the leading Canadian agency in the area of international assistance, is responsible for approximately 78% of the country's aid budget. The Agency's mandate to "support sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world" indicates that the Agency is concerned with social and cultural factors. However, CIDA does not have any specific mechanisms or tools such as SIA to help achieve its social and cultural sustainability goals. The objectives of this thesis were: a) to develop an analytical framework for undertaking and analysing SIA, and b) to compare CIDA's SIA-related strategies, procedures and mechanisms as they stand now to what is stated in the literature, so as to indicate how and when the Agency uses them, and also to assess their quality and effectiveness. The overarching question that constituted the pillar of this thesis was a two-pronged question: Do CIDA's strategies, procedures and mechanisms equal SIA without being SIA? And are those strategies, procedures and mechanisms adequate to cover issues that are normally dealt with through traditional SIA? This question was answered through 1) the application of the analytical framework on two proposals submitted to CIDA, and 2) an analysis of CIDA's SIA-related procedures based on the framework, key informant interviews, and a review of the literature on the Agency's policies, guidelines, and practices. Based on the literature review, the application of the analytical framework, and on the comments of the informants, the need for an SIA-type procedure for assessing social and cultural effects and impacts for CIDA funding is suggested. Such a practice might very well clarify the Agency's requirements in relation to the consideration of social and cultural factors in the development of projects. Also, it is important to stress that the process should not be reduced to a bureaucratic procedure blindly applied. CIDA could go without formulating a distinct protocol for SIA, as it already has several project planning tools and procedures that could lend themselves very well to the purpose of SIA. Indeed, the Agency's results-based management (RBM) framework could be altered so as to make it more holistic in that it would take into consideration both intended and unintended effects and impacts, and would better take into account social and cultural factors. The application of the logical framework analysis (LFA) can also be expanded to achieve similar goals. Further, the Agency could focus on developing a more integrated and comprehensive type of impact assessment that would touch on all the required types of assessments.

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