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The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) was established by order-in-council in 1968 to administer the bulk of Canada's official development assistance (ODA) program. In 1995, CIDA took on the responsibility of administering Canada's ODA programs in transition countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union by supporting democratic development and economic liberalization.

CIDA continues to be the Government of Canada's principal organization responsible for development and humanitarian policy and programming. The Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, which came into force on June 28, 2008, states that expenditures to be reported to Parliament as ODA must contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. CIDA reports to Parliament through the Minister of International Cooperation.

CIDA's aim is to manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results and to engage in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada's effort to realize its development objectives.