Global Justice Now report calls for re-imagining foreign aid as “redistribution of global wealth”
A FOREIGN AID campaigner has said a more “critical debate” is needed on how the budget is spent, on the back of a new report.
Aisha Dodwell, who co-authored the report for Global Justice Now, said that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are unlikely to criticise the Department for International Development (DfID), for fear of losing funding.
The report, which was released today, calls for a more progressive way to spend foreign aid, focusing more on how it’s spent as opposed to what is spent, as well as cutting down on the amount of funding given to NGOs and for-profit companies.
Dodwell told CommonSpace: “You have the development NGOs, and they’re largely funded by DfID, and it’s very hard for them to critique DfID because they will lose their funding if they do.”
She also took aim at the “right wing press”, saying that it had led a “very, very fierce campaign against aid spending and, of course, those flames were stoked by Ukip and some of the far-right politicians.”
“You have the development NGOs, and they’re largely funded by DfID, and it’s very hard for them to critique DfID because they will lose their funding if they do.” Aisha Dodwell
When asked whether she believes if those on the left of the political spectrum have done enough in the debate, Dodwell was frank, saying: “The short answer to that is no.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere nearly enough critical debate. I think people are so scared of losing aid.”
In 2016, the UK spent £12.1bn on foreign aid, exactly 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI). In the same year, DfID spending on bilateral aid saw £2.5bn given to African countries, and £1.6bn given to Asia.
According to DfID’s website, it has helped millions with projects to immunise children, provide fresh water and boost nutrition in children and pregnant women.
Dodwell pointed to controversial groups such as the CDC Group and Adam Smith International (ASI), which make vast amounts of money from aid projects, which are funded by DfID.
“It’s based on this idea of trickle down economics as you can invest in the highest end of the market and it will trickle down. The idea that a rising tide will raise all ships, that fairly disproven model of economics.” Aisha Dodwell
According to Dodwell, the focus of groups like CDC invest in higher end projects such as shopping malls and private healthcare, which are not correctly targeted at those who need it, to make a profit.
“It’s based on this idea of trickle down economics as you can invest in the highest end of the market and it will trickle down. The idea that a rising tide will raise all ships, that fairly disproven model of economics,” she said.
The report makes several recommendations that would push UK aid spending in a more progressive direction, which all stem from the re-imagining of foreign aid as a “redistribution of global wealth”. These include:
- Strengthening public services such as health and education. Providing technical support based on UK schemes such as the NHS as well as helping the country reform their tax system and providing infrastructure support;
- Helping developing nations to reform their tax systems, so the maximum amount of revenue can be gained, as well as “tackling global tax avoidance head on”;
- Making funds more readily available to civil groups within communities;
- Conduct a review of all private organisations such as CDC and ASI, with the option to cease contracts if objectives are not being met.
DfID was approached for comment but had not responded by time of publication.
Picture courtesy of Defence Images
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