Aid and Poverty
Good Aid provides the funds needed to empower communities with resources that they can use to lift themselves out of poverty. Good aid is more than providing money: it realises that communities in poor countries are agents of their own futures and are usually the best people to decide how projects are run. Sadly, aid tends to politicised and is often tied to the provision of services from and benefits to the country providing it. As a result, a large amount of foreign aid helps entrench the cycles of poverty that affect the people living in less economically developed countries (LEDCs).
'Aid' is what we contribute across the globe to help others in different countries overcome poverty, conflicts and humanitarian disasters- but it can be a tricky subject as aid takes different types, can be ineffective and aid to ovecome extreme poverty abroad is often confused with government loans and other forms of international co-operation.
It is important to understand what we mean by aid to reduce poverty as the media often portrays development asistance similar to the more common international loan of arms, military outsourcing, political support and other non-developmental relationships that impact on the public opinion of how we relate to other countries in the world.
Development, or 'foreign' aid, is a regulated contribution by one or more countries to help battle specific causes of poverty and encourage devlopment in communities that need it overseas, by sponsoring development projects or economic growth. Most of the time, it is referred to as Official Development Aid (ODA).
Examples of ODA include donating funds to immunisation projects against serious illnesses like malaria and polio, or providing expertise and suport for projects to get more children into education, empower women or help support economic changes to allow recipient countries to better target poverty. Providers of foriegn aid are called donors, and aid is mostly multi-lateral meaning it is combined from many countries and spent through the use of several organisations or umbrella groups for development such as the UN, European Union (EU) or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Aid is also Bi-lateral, meaning that it is given from one country directly to another.
The public in developing countries often over-estimate the amount we give in support to other communities overcoming poverty. In reality, we simply don't give enough: in the UK, ODA has recently been increased amid austerity cuts in the government but still only accounts for 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) and aid from the US and Japan is ranked lowest from the developed world - while official aid from Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg accounts for over 1% of GNI. For more on public attitudes to foreign policy and aid, read our blog here.
Our friends at the ONE Campaign recently released an eye-opening clip that reveals the public’s ignorance about the scale and impact of aid from the UK government: