Backgrounder: Minister Sajjan announces $157.6 million in development and humanitarian funding as he concludes visits to Bangladesh, the Philippines and Qatar


Additional meetings and visits made by Minister Sajjan in Bangladesh and the Philippines

While in Bangladesh, Minister Sajjan met with Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this meeting, he underlined Canada’s commitment to deepening its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and to the long and successful development partnership between Canada and Bangladesh. They discussed our responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including its impact on food security, and the interlinked Rohingya refugee crisis and situation in Myanmar.

Minister Sajjan spoke with Rohingya refugees living at the Ukhiya refugee camp to understand their experiences and aspirations. He also discussed their educational needs and the challenges they face. There, he reiterated Canada’s support for skills development and for refugee and host community education, highlighting Canada’s recent pledge to Education Cannot Wait, the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, which includes $27.5 million in funding to the Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Bangladesh.

The Minister also met with Gwyn Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator, Johannes van der Klaauw, the UN Refugee Agency’s Representative in Bangladesh, and Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, the Government of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, to discuss the Rohingya crisis and how Canada can best continue to support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

He also visited icddr,b (formerly International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) to learn about its development of low-cost, high-impact health solutions that have saved millions of lives around the world. He also participated in a round-table discussion with Bangladeshi women’s rights organizations and engaged with women and adolescent girls benefiting from Canada-funded projects that support gender equality and the COVID-19 response in Bangladesh.

The Minister also visited a group of women in the nearby village of Lomboripara to witness Canadian support for Bangladeshi host communities in action. Finally, he visited Dhaka’s Korail slum to learn about the impact of BRAC’s integrated approach to development in Bangladesh’s largest urban slum directly from students, health-care workers and others.

In the Philippines, Minister Sajjan was joined by Member of Parliament Rechie Valdez, the first Filipina-Canadian elected to Canada’s House of Commons.

In Manila, they met with Martin Romualdez, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other senior Filipino legislators to exchange views on opportunities for cooperation under the auspices of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. They also discussed the opportunities presented by the profound people-to-people ties that link Canada and the Philippines.

They also held meetings with Enrique Manalo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Arsenio Balisacan, Secretary of National Economic and Development Authority; and Masatsugu Asakawa, President of the Asian Development Bank, to discuss the advancement of shared priorities including food security, climate action, economic recovery, disaster preparedness and response, a rules-based international order, democracy, gender equality and human rights.

Minister Sajjan also gave a keynote address at the 25th anniversary of the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism—a flagship program of the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines that promotes professional, responsible and courageous media. The Minister used the occasion to underscore Canada’s unwavering commitment to human rights, including media freedom, in the Philippines.

In the Davao City region, Minister Sajjan visited a development project supporting small and medium agro-enterprises that also promotes environmentally sound and gender-sensitive practices. He heard directly from local farmers and producers about the specific challenges facing the agricultural sector. Minister Sajjan also visited the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to understand the Philippines’ capabilities and capacity gaps in preparing for, and responding to, disasters.

During his visits, Minister Sajjan announced $157.6 million in development and humanitarian assistance funding that is being distributed as follows:

Development funding announced at the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5)

Project: Vitamin A Supplementation in a New Age (VINA)

Partner: UNICEF

Funding: $34 million

This project aims to reduce mortality in children under 5 years of age who are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency in 15 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. VINA will support the more equitable, gender-responsive and efficient delivery of vitamin A supplementation, working in partnership with the ministries of health of the countries involved. UNICEF estimates that this project will reach approximately 41 million children under 5 years of age in 15 countries by 2026, with a focus on vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups.  

Project: Women and Youth in Action for Sustainable


Partner: SOCODEVI and Viridis Terra Innovation Inc.

Funding: $25 million

This project aims to improve the conservation of ecosystems by increasing the ability of members of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives to effectively develop agroforestry value chains that respect biodiversity and are adapted to climate change. To ensure its results are sustainable in a context marked by conflict, the project will encourage local communities to commit to inclusive and equitable natural resource governance. This project will directly benefit over 10,000 people, of whom 8,000 are women in 12 communities; 12 farmer organizations; and 200 community leaders in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region.

Development funding (Bangladesh)

Project: Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Partner: icddr,b

Funding: $24 million

This project identifies gaps in the provision of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and assesses the target groups’ unmet SRH needs through research. These groups include adolescent boys and girls, pregnant women, newly married couples and people with distinct SRH needs, including women in the ready-made garments sector, sex workers, people with diverse sexual orientations and drug users.

Project: Empowering Women in the Nursing Sector

Partner: CowaterSogema International

Funding: $19.9 million

This project will enhance nurses’ performance and professional status in Bangladesh through investment in management and leadership training and the development of a comprehensive nursing career path. This project will also improve nursing training facilities and support the creation of a national nurse training institute and certificate program.

Project: Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Dhaka

Partner: Health-Bridge Foundation of Canada

Funding: $12.2 million

This project aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of vulnerable and underserved women, girls and other vulnerable groups (unmarried adolescents, sex workers or members of the LGBTQI+ community, who are more likely to use non-clinical services for issues related to their sexual and reproductive health) residing in the urban slums of 2 Dhaka sub-districts. The project also addresses the negative impact COVID-19 has had on women and girls’ access to services related to SRHR.

Project: Scaling up Investments in Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Resilience

Partner: Global Center on Adaptation

Funding: $10 million

This project is expected to contribute to an increase in the national and global knowledge of nature-based solutions, as well as the capacity to scale them up. It will also provide technical support to construct climate-resilient and gender-responsive infrastructure through inclusive, multi-stakeholder approaches. In addition, the project will help public and private organizations access existing climate funds for adaptation.

Project: Support for COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Education

Partner: UNICEF

Funding: $10 million

This project ensures that children and adolescents in Bangladesh, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, have improved access to, and use of, quality primary and secondary education services that are inclusive, gender- and shock-responsive, universal and resilient. This project is designed to ensure that schools are safe to return to during the COVID-19 pandemic and that they stay safe, including the development of the Blended Education Masterplan with the government.

Project: Canada’s Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE)

Partner: UNICEF

Funding: $7 million

CanGIVE is partnering with UNICEF in 11 countries (total value of $170 million), including Bangladesh, to enhance COVID-19 vaccine delivery and strengthen health systems. Through this $7 million allocation for Bangladesh, UNICEF aims to increase access to COVID-19 vaccination and reinforce essential health services for Rohingya refugees and high-risk populations in need of humanitarian assistance. UNICEF will also support gender-responsive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services; mobile medical teams; and the prevention of infectious diseases.

Project: Gender-Responsive Skills and Livelihoods: Bhasan Char

Partner: International Labour Organization-United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-BRAC

Funding: $4 million

This project seeks to identify strategies to implement and expand livelihood activities for Rohingya refugees, particularly women, living on Bhasan Char. The aim is to strengthen the participants’ resilience and improve their living conditions now, while also sustaining hope for a future that includes their successful reintegration on their eventual return to Myanmar. The project’s activities on Bhasan Char are led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and implemented by BRAC.

Project: Youth-Empowered Child, Early and Forced Marriage

Partner: World Vision Canada

Funding: $3.4 million

This project aims to empower adolescents and youths, particularly girls, to exert greater control over their sexual and reproductive health, rights and decision making and address the factors that drive child, early and forced marriage with the support of their families and communities, including faith leaders. This project also empowers girls and young women to protect themselves from COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts through strengthening services and education.

Project: Pooled Fund for Localizing the Rohingya Response: Bhasan Char

Partner: BRAC

Funding: $2.1 million

This project establishes a unique, first-of-its-kind pooled fund supported by the Government of Canada for a localized development and humanitarian response in a protracted crisis. This fund, administered by BRAC, is being used for the benefit of the Rohingya refugees on Bhasan Char through the delivery of interventions by Bangladeshi non-governmental organizations. Now in its sixth year, the Rohingya refugee crisis highlights the need for more effective integration of humanitarian and development efforts, while building local capacity to deliver ongoing services.

Humanitarian Assistance (Bangladesh)

Partner: Médecins Sans Frontières

Funding: $2.5 million

With this funding, as part of an overall programmatic approach, Médecins Sans Frontières is providing emergency health care for refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health services.

Partner: World Food Programme

Funding: $2 million

With this funding, the World Food Programme is distributing food vouchers to Rohingya refugees to support their nutritional needs, as well as providing therapeutic feeding interventions to pregnant and lactating people and to children under 5 years of age.

Partner: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Funding: $1.5 million

With this funding, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is implementing and supporting a range of essential protection and assistance programming for Rohingya refugees, including medical services, community-based protection and mental health and psychological support services.

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