Home to more than 575 million people, Southeast Asia, encompassing 11 countries—is one of the most diverse and dynamic regions of the world. Despite strong economic growth, disparities in wealth continue to persist throughout the region. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is committed to increasing regional economic integration and narrowing the gap between development levels among member countries.
Southeast Asia is the most disaster-prone region on the planet, with climate change and environmental degradation contributing to the rising number. Given the size and often devastating impact of those disasters, ASEAN has identified disaster risk reduction as a priority for increasing economic growth in the region. Beyond their human toll, natural disasters seriously damage assets and livelihoods—especially those of the poor—destroy infrastructure, reduce food security, hinder social and economic progress, and reverse gains made in reducing poverty. They often strike more than one country at a time.
The human rights of vulnerable populations, particularly those of women, children, migrants and ethnic minorities, continue to be at risk across Southeast Asia. Countries of the region have agreed to joint action to promote and protect fundamental freedoms through ASEAN. In 2009, Canada joined 12 other countries in appointing an ambassador to ASEAN, reflecting the region's importance to Canada. Today, there are more than 55 ambassadors accredited to ASEAN.
The goal of CIDA's Southeast Asia Regional Program is to reduce poverty in the region by supporting the ASEAN agenda on economic growth and improving human rights. CIDA's program aims to strengthen regional institutions, networks and organizations working on these trans-boundary issues. It is aligned with ASEAN and national government development priorities.
CIDA focuses on stimulating sustainable economic growth and strengthening democratic governance. All CIDA-funded projects under this program involve at least three Southeast Asian developing countries as active participants.
CIDA is focusing on stimulating sustainable economic growth by reducing the risks of natural disasters. This includes:
Democratic governance is one of the Government of Canada's priority themes for international assistance and one of CIDA's crosscutting themes. Strengthening human rights is an important element of democratic governance.
CIDA is focusing on strengthening human rights by:
CIDA is helping regional organizations strengthen their capacity to implement aid effectiveness principles and is trying to align its work with that of other donors in the region. CIDA-supported projects in Southeast Asia promote local ownership.