The UK’s international aid budget will be maintained at its present unreduced level, in spite of David Cameron’s cuts elsewhere. But, the real argument concerns not the amount of aid, but rather who its beneficiaries are and what use it is being put to.
“International aid is aimed at those countries with whom the donor country enjoys the greatest historical ties”. This is the unequivocal tone used by Sergio Tezanos – assistant director and coordinator for research at the Chair of International and Latin American Aid (known under the acronym COIBA) of the University of Cantabria – in assessing who the final beneficiaries will be, and how international aid donated by many rich countries to developing countries will be used.
International aid has always been a thorny subject in the eyes of a segment of the public. This year, despite the economic crisis and the subsequent cuts, the UK government will spare the Ministry of International Aid the universal 2% budgetary cut.
In fact, it was recently announced that £3 million will be given in humanitarian aid to the situation in Somalia; to alleviate famine and bolster the new political regime.
However, the amounts are not the primary focus of attention for experts, rather the use this investment is put to. The organisation, Human Rights Watch has repeatedly urged citizens in the destination countries to make sure the aid reaches its target beneficiaries “in a transparent and responsible way”.
Others voice their concerns that part of the budget is being allocated to the less needy, arriving in second rather than third world countries, and on certain occasions, the aid is linked with cases of corruption and the forwarding of national political interests instead of reaching their intended beneficiaries.
Just a few months ago there was talk in the press of a British donation made to Peru for the purposes of improving the health of the poorest and promoting human rights which, it turns out, was being used to control population numbers and encourage abortion.
The criticism was that the aid had not been signed over to Peru’s Ministry of Health, but rather to an NGO with ties to the ex-president, Alberto Fujimori (previously convicted for 6 years for corruption and human rights abuses), who then launched a sterilisation program aimed at aboriginal women.
These facts have led the British liberal politician, Martin Horwood, to take it upon himself to submit to the House of Commons a bill of reform making international aid programs more effective.
Horwood is known for his stance on supporting anti-nuclear energy campaigns, protecting the identity of the traditional English pub, and since 2011 for being the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples.
His proposal is to open up the debate and raise diplomatic awareness in order to encourage transparency in the budgets and shine a light on the final beneficiaries of international aid.
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(Translated by Nigel Conibear – Email: email@example.com)