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Build Back Better

Now more than ever we need to protect Ireland’s overseas aid budget

As the government finalises Budget 2021, difficult decisions must be made. However it is absolutely essential we protect aid budgets or millions could suffer during the global Covid-19 crisis. Now is the time to stand together and protect the most vulnerable.

Checking temperatures for fever symptoms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Habiba Mohamed, one of Trócaire’s health workers, checks the temperature of Mohamed Abdi Ali at Luuq hospital, in the Gedo region of Somalia. Photo : Trócaire. Checking temperatures for fever symptoms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Habiba Mohamed, one of Trócaire’s health workers, checks the temperature of Mohamed Abdi Ali at Luuq hospital, in the Gedo region of Somalia. Photo : Trócaire.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a devastating reminder of how interconnected our world is. Global solidarity through overseas aid is more vital now than ever as the world faces a series of challenges unparalleled in our lifetime.

The Covid crisis has plunged the world’s poorest people into further poverty. Millions of people in the developing world survive on a day-to-day basis. Many of these people don’t have safety nets like social welfare, universal healthcare and Covid payments. If they don’t earn for a day, they don’t eat.

Lockdowns and restrictions, while necessary from a public health perspective, have plunged these people into further poverty. It is estimated that 220 million people in the developing world are facing food shortages over the coming months. Most of these people also don’t have access to decent healthcare. In a time when good hand hygiene is essential, 3 billion people around the world lack basic hand-washing facilities at home.

Now is the time to stand together and protect the most vulnerable. In Fratelli Tutti, his latest encyclical, Pope Francis urges us to allow the Covid-19 tragedy to become the moment we remember that we are a global community where one person’s problems are the problems of all.

We know that 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. Reducing aid would deepen this crisis and could prolong the global pandemic. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said “the world is only as strong as its weakest health system”.

A recent poll showed that over two in three Irish people support spending on overseas aid, even during the Covid-19 crisis. The Government must recognise this in Budget 2021 by protecting Ireland’s overseas aid budget so as organisations like Trócaire can continue to save and change lives around the world.

As the Government finalises its budget for next year, Trócaire is calling for the government to:

  • Maintain existing levels of investment in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure in Budget 2021, increase the proportion of funding to civil society within the ODA budget, and work towards achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNI in ODA through the development of a multi annual plan.

 

  • Continue to uphold Irish Aid’s longstanding reputation for excellence as a humanitarian partner, with high quality, poverty reduction focused, untied aid, including civil society as a key partner.

 

  • Meet Ireland’s international commitments to climate justice by increasing allocations to climate finance in addition to increases in overall ODA, rather than through a relabelling of ODA.

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