Why do 60% of UK public think overseas Aid wasted?

Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos at the 2007 World ...

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The British government pledged to ring fence its Overseas Aid of  0.7% of national income. To  date the British public continue to ask why is that? In fact in a recent BBC Radio 4 interview , Andrew Mitchell The Secretary of state for International Development DFID had to answer the question


Why do 60% of  UK public think overseas Aid is wasted? And if that is the case should we continue to send our hard earned cash overseas?

and his answer

If we do not send the money to help alleviate problems like poverty, extreme hunger, these problems will turn up on our door step

Does he have a point?


On the face of it he does. So the question is has our sending overseas Aid stopped these problems turning up on our door stop?

The answer is NO.


British people are generous and are quick to respond to calls of help when there is an emergency elsewhere and have responded generously to the crisis in the horn of Africa and that being the case why would 60% of them think that overseas Aid is wasted? This article in The Mail Online has some answers

I have previously asked the question Why do parts of  Africa remain desperately despite the Aid that we send? and in another post I asked why India, a country that reportedly has its own Overseas Aid program has more poor people than some parts of Africa?

This all sounds to me like either

  1. Mr Mitchell has not not been effective at getting his message out there
  2. or that he needs to show us the UK public where our money goes in real terms and unfortunately for some that will mean that some of those “problems” he mentioned during his radio interview do not continue to show up on our door step


What do you think?

I am going to keep this post short to encourage discussion and will return to the topic in the next post – but in the mean time do join the conversation and don’t forget to invite your friends


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Villages in Action – I would like to hear more of these conversations


Happy New Year folk.

How are you getting on with your New year’s resolutions so far?

I know this is an odd question but what exactly are New year’s resolutions? Are the goals or aspirations?

I recently stumbled across an an article by Linda Raftree with her wishes for the year 2012 specifically on issues of Inclusion, openness and authenticity.

Linda reflects on the events that have shaped the world in 2011 and her  wish for 2012 is for the voices of the excluded to be included in development conversations amongst other things.  I share Linda’s wish for  more  Inclusion and authentic stories especially on Africa in 2012.

I attend several events on development in Africa throughout the year, where I hear from development experts, academics, NGOs and big corporations and I always feel something is missing from these conversations- the voices of the recipients of development programmes. As I recently learned if we don’t listen- WE GET IT WRONG and send out the wrong message about those that are on the receiving end of development programmes

An ordinary man on the streets of any given western capital tends to learn about Africa from a television set. This median does not always pull together those authentic stories about life in Africa and anyone with no knowledge of Africa would be forgiven for thinking that Africa is a lost cause on which resources should not be wasted.

In his BBC Radio 4 interview Mo Ibrahim has (quite rightly) recently complained about the popular media failing to present a comprehensive image of Africa.

But the  question  is who has the right to tell the authentic story of Africa ?

How do we add their voice to the development conversation and why is it important that we hear these voices?

If we learned anything in 2011 I would like to think that it was the citizens own the right to tell their story and that social media has made that possible and as a result the world has changed in ways we could never have imagined.

Villages in Action

Is a  little unknown conference that came about in response to the UN summit of 2010. The Villages in Action platform gives us  we get a rare opportunity to hear from residents of a Ugandan village- we learn how they live, what they generate income, the impact of their lifestyle on their environment and why development initiatives do not work.

In 2012 the first development event I will attend will be in Masindi NW Uganda on 14 January 2012. This will be the second Villages in Action conference and I am really looking forward to it. If you  can’t join us you will not miss out, the organisers will bring the event live to you in your living room.

What ever the new year holds in stock- like Linda my wish for 2012 is to hear more from those at the receiving end of development!

Happy New year and please do share your New Year’s wishes

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Economic Migration

In the last post I looked at the issue of unfair trade agreements an their role in economic migration.  In this thread I would like to look at the value of economic migrants.

I has been a few days since my last post and in those days I watched an interesting documentary called The End of the Line. The documentary looked at two issues that I have written about here and the other is one of immigration. The fisher man from Senegal has been priced out of the market by European fishing companies who have been sold rights to fish here by the government, This has meant that his daily catch is only worth $6 and he spends $4 on that on fuel. he says he wants to provide for his family but cannot see how and the only option left to him is to make the dangerous journey to Europe. There is nothing left here for him.

Interestingly too, one of the professional  interviewed said that this is a growing trend in this part of Senegal but sadly whilst “they want our fish, we are not welcome in Europe” Unfair Trade terms?

Economic Migrants or the Diaspora are very useful to the economic development of their country of origin because of  the money they send home. Ireland is one such country that depended heavily on these remittances until recently. African countries rely heavily on these remittances too and in 2008 these amounted to $780 million dollars in Uganda alone. Those are staggering amounts of money to a country whose GDP was up until recently  made up of 70% of AID money.

There is a benefit too for the donor agencies, with the economic migrants remitting money to their countries of origin, in theory it should mean that AID to a given country may eventually reduce and thus ease the burden on it’s tax payers.  This is how it work in theory and the money remitted by the economic migrants is often much more than the AID a given country might receive. The reality however is that these remittances are not structured in such way as to aid development. instead the money is sent to family members for personal consumption

We have also  heard  cries of “they come here and take our jobs” my question why are these jobs available for the new comers to take?

The BBC carried out an experiment to dispel this myth once and for all, find out  what happened when immigrants were withdrawn from their jobs in Wisbech Cambridgeshire  here

Although the economic migrants will and may do jobs that the locals do not want to do there is no doubt that the increase in an area’s population will have an impact upon other resources such as health school, housing.

There is an indirect cost to the homelands of the economic migrants too known as the brain drain countries lose their skilled personnel to other countries and the imapct of such brain drain will vary from country to ocuntry with the least developed countries  suffering the most.

The  question is how do you balance all this out?

Have got a view on any of issues raised here, if so it will be great to hear from you