In the last few days you may have seen some negative criticism about aid. At a time of economic instability, cynics in the media are trying to force the government to cut aid by saying something we know isn’t true – that we spend too much on aid, our aid doesn’t work and that the public doesn’t want to give aid.
We know that this isn’t the whole story and reducing our aid commitments is both dangerous and wrong.
Too Much Aid
The idea that we spend a disproportionate amount of money on aid is an exaggeration. In fact, the UK has only recently committed to spending 0.7% of its GDP on foreign aid. Although aid is only one way of enabling countries to develop and it needs to be used effectively, this is no reason to cut aid altogether. Instead, the discussion should be what can we do as well as giving aid and how should we be spending aid?
Aid Doesn’t Work
Good aid does work. British aid spending has saved lives and made the world healthier, safer and more just.
Even if we only take the progress we have made in vaccination as an example, we have achieved so much. Here are just a few examples;
- Through aid to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative more than 2 billion children have been immunised in the past 25 years and more than 8 million children have been saved from life-long paralysis or death. As a result, polio could be the second human disease ever eradicated in the coming years, which would not only ensure none contracts this debilitating disease, but would also save the global economy $50billion which is currently spent on polio prevention and treatment, making polio eradication a good value for money investment.
- The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations is supporting countries in immunising more than 250 million children by 2015, which could avert 3.9 million future deaths.
- Through The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, 6.6 million people in low and middle-income countries are on AIDS treatment, up from 200,000 a decade ago. Even more amazingly, access to AIDS treatment has increased over 3000% since the beginning of the Global Fund.
Please add your comments below if you have any other examples you would like to share.
Of course we know that aid isn't the only solution. Fairer trade and good governance are just two other essential components of what we know is essential to end extreme poverty. However, we also know that aid is one essential component. In our 1.4 Billion Reasons we describe it like the 'oil' of a bike - helping developing to happen more smoothly and efficiently, but only one essential component to complement the wheels (trade) and a solid frame of good governance.
To reduce the conversation to a blanket statement that all aid is bad is not helpful.
The Public Doesn’t Want to Give Aid
With all this negative media coverage, telling us what we do and do not want - it is vital that you make up your own mind and we show Justine Greening how many of us support aid spending. If you would like to join us, we would encourage you to send your own letter to the Secretary of State, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, to tell them the whole story.
As London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic games this year, we showed the world not only that we cared about sport but that we care about the richness and diversity in the world.
The myths that are being spread are wrong and dangerous, not telling the side of the story that good aid saves lives and produces sustainable solutions for the world’s poorest people. If left unchallenged, this could have a significant negative impact on the lives of the world’s poor.
In the past 30 years extreme poverty has more than halved, from 52% of the world in 1981 to under 25% today - even with population growth.
If this vital component of the development process is reduced now not only will millions of lives be affected, but progress will also be seriously stalled and possibly reversed. We don’t want to regress. We want to see this reduce to 0% in our generation. For the first time in history this could be a reality, but we need to continue all efforts including protecting the UK aid budget.
To do this, we do need your voice to be hard.
Please join us in telling the other side of the story, and sending a letter to the Secretary of State, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. We have created a draft letter for you, but please do edit this to reflect your own thoughts.