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Protect Overseas Aid

Building back better means supporting countries with aid to allow them build the healthcare systems and infrastructure needed to deal with this crisis.

Overseas aid works. It has lifted millions out of poverty, slashed maternal and infant mortality rates, and led to more people being in school than ever before. Aid works but government aid budgets are now under threat due to the COVID financial crisis.

Cutting aid budgets in our unequal world means that the world’s poorest will be hit the hardest. These are people living in countries with very weak health systems. Many of these countries don’t have safety nets like social welfare, universal healthcare and COVID payments.

Reducing aid will only deepen the crisis. It may also prolong the global pandemic. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said “the world is only as strong as its weakest health system”.

Globally, countries have made a commitment to spending 0.7% of their national income on helping the world’s poorest people. The promise amounts to spending just 70c for every €100, but even that meagre promise has been broken in Ireland.

93% of Irish people believe that helping people in developing countries is important. Yet despite our commitment to spending 0.7% of our national income on aid, we are currently only spending 30c for every €100 on aid. Even that amount is now under threat as we face economic crisis and uncertain times.

In the UK, despite the fact that the 0.7% has been reached, the recent merger of the Dept for International Development and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has led to fears that the primary aim of UK overseas aid - to alleviate poverty - could be threatened.

At a time when the impact of COVID threatens famines of “biblical proportions”, there is a danger that Ireland and the UK will reduce their commitment, either in monetary terms or changing priorities, to the world’s poorest people.

Now is the time to protect our aid budgets. We can’t let the poorest people in the world suffer the most.

Why protect Overseas Aid budgets?

Because Aid Works:

  • The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen by two thirds since 1990,
  • 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990,
  • Women dying in childbirth has fallen by 37% since 2000,
  • HIV infections in Africa have declined by almost 40% in the last decade,
  • Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91%.

Because the COVID crisis means we need aid more than ever:

  • The UN warns that 265 million people could be facing starvation by the end of 2020,
  • The economic fallout from COVID could push an additional half a billion people into poverty,
  • There is a staggering €33 billion needed for humanitarian responses including COVID in 2020. Only 18% of that amount is currently funded by governments.

We must make sure that we do not lose the progress we’ve made across the world. We need to protect Overseas Aid and Build Back Better. 

What can our governments do?

We are calling on the Irish government to:

  • Protect the aid budget
  • Reach 0.7% of national income being invested in the developing world
  • Increase global humanitarian funding to support civil society organisations and localisation

We are calling on the UK government to:

  • Ensure the new Department with responsibility for overseas aid has a clear mission statement that puts a commitment to eradicating poverty at its heart
  • Ensure that any cuts that are made to the aid budget due to the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, do not affect spending in the areas that make the biggest difference for the poorest people, such as health, education and nutrition
  • Ensure there is no politicisation of humanitarian assistance to further the UK national interest which could put the lives of aid workers directly at risk and prevent aid from reaching the most vulnerable

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