AKF Senior Programmes Officer, Takyiwa Danso, discusses the #ProudOfAid Campaign she is running with other organisations, supporting the UK’s continued contribution to foreign aid – currently 0.7% of its Gross National Income (GNI).
Over the last couple of months, the wider NGO sector in the UK have been working hard to defend the work of the UK’s contribution to foreign aid. Recently, media reports called for the government to rethink our commitment to overseas development. Last year, the UK legally committed to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas development, which guarantee funding for projects that improve the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest areas. However, the sudden uproar of the campaign to cut aid spending led to a Parliamentary debate on the 13th June on whether the 0.7% target for foreign aid should remain. This was despite numerous polls suggesting that the UK pubic are actually in favour of UK Aid.
As humanitarians, we’ve all seen the importance of providing aid to those in need. Whether it comes from the UK government or from NGO’s like AKF, aid cannot be cut off if we want to tackle poverty-related issues. For example, currently, 1.25 billion people lack access to an adequate water supply or sanitation facilities, which disrupts their lives in different ways, including not being able to carry out day to day activities. However, UK Aid has helped 62.9 billion people to access better sanitation and hygiene conditions, which also addresses many other issues such as ensuring that the right resources reach the women and girls who need it the most. Essentially our work in development aims to empower those in need to lift themselves out of their situation, whether that be through financial or non-monetary assistance.
After attending the RESULT’s UK National Conference, AKF programme officers, Halima and I were able to engage in conversations on the current state of international development regarding the UK’s commitment, the refugee crisis, climate change and economic development with practitioners from various civil society groups, including Save the Children and Action Aid. We were then invited to advocate the importance of maintaining UK Aid to address long term issues of nutrition, education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to civil servants at DFID as well as MP’s at the Houses of Parliament. This concluded in attending the Parliamentary debate itself on whether the UK should hold its 0.7% commitment. Fortunately despite the many criticisms of the current system, there was an almost unanimous agreement amongst politicians that the UK has a responsibility to tackle global challenges and will therefore continue to stand by its current commitment to support the world’s poorest.