Mar 21st, 2013 11:26 AM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
This post was initially published on NewStatesman.com
Martin Luther King may have been right to say that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, but he also knew that such a virtuous long-term curve would not be achieved without a lot of daily hammering, heaving and shoving.
Today, after the Chancellor confirmed that Britain will become the first G8 country to reach the 43-year-old 0.7% target for international aid as a share of national income, it feels like one of those moments to step back from the hammering and see the shape of the arc.
I admit: I didn’t get into global campaigning to achieve the 0.7 target. But I quickly realised it was one necessary step along the road towards a goal that really is worth fighting for: an end to extreme poverty. And I also confess it has taken longer than I thought it would.
From the first tentative promises to “begin to reverse the decline” in the aid budget made by New Labour in 1997, to the strong leadership of Blair and Brown in 2005 to get other countries behind bold aid targets and a package of other measures, and the remarkable commitment of David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg since 2010 which has taken this issue out of party politics… it’s been a long road. But today, we can look back and see just how far we’ve travelled.
The arguments remain, of course. There are those who say 0.7 is unnecessary, arbitrary and unaffordable. But as ONE estimated last year, by reaching 0.7, British taxpayers will put 15.9 million children in school, vaccinate 80 million children against life-threatening diseases, provide safe drinking water for 17 million people and help 77 million get basic financial services, like bank accounts and credit, enabling them to work their way out of poverty for good.
And is 0.7 per cent an arbitrary target? Only in the sense that 70mph is an arbitrary speed limit on the motorway. We can argue about the detail, but the point is that it’s about right.
As for affordability: it’s 7 pence in every ten pounds of national income. As a proportion of government spending, it is dwarfed by almost everything else. A person earning £30,000 a year contributes about £67 a year to aid, and around £6,595 to everything else. Even in tough times, this is small change that makes a very big difference – and when told the facts about the size of the aid budget, six out of ten people say it is about right or not big enough.
Looking ahead, there are challenges. As the aid budget is pegged to the size of national income, each time the nation’s wealth is revised downwards, aid goes down too. In today’s announcement, £130m was cut from the proposed increase in aid. The Department for International Development can probably just about absorb a hit like that, but it’s a reminder that while the British economy continues to suffer, the world’s poorest people share the burden. And to provide real certainty now about future aid commitments, the right thing to do would be to enshrine the 0.7% target in law, as all three major parties have promised to do in this parliament. The coming Queen’s Speech would be the right time for the Coalition Government to make good on that promise.
Finally, the UK must use this moral authority and political muscle for all it’s worth as they host the G8 this June. The Prime Minister has a great vision for what he can achieve with his G8 presidency. With the necessary political drive, he could help unleash a transparency revolution, so that ordinary citizens have the information they need to hold their governments and others to account, turning resources into results in the fight against extreme poverty. And with other leaders, he can make critical commitments on agriculture and nutrition, putting political weight and financial support behind African-led country plans.
With these two steps in 2013, that vision of an end to extreme poverty will be more achievable than ever. And today will be remembered as a memorable milestone on that historic journey.
Mar 19th, 2013 11:11 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Something very strange happened in London this morning. Rumours started circulating on Twitter that the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, was being spotted all over the city.
Hundreds of George Osbornes were seen on the tube, on bikes, jumping out of black cabs and even coming down the River Thames on boats. They were all heading towards Westminster and the heart of UK Parliament.
Tomorrow, the real George Osborne will announce the UK Budget. ONE members, as part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF coalition, have been campaigning to make sure that he keeps a long held promise and commits to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid.
Will he do the heroic thing and make us proud?
Or will the promise fall flat at the last minute?
Hundreds of campaigners, supported by thousands more who have sent letters and lobbied their MPs, have today sent a very clear message to leaders that we want to see them keep the aid promise.
UK aid could mean 16 million more children are in school and 80 million more are vaccinated from life threatening illnesses by 2015.
Ending global poverty is still a big IF, but tomorrow we could be a big step closer.
There’s still time to get behind our campaign. Send a tweet to George Osborne’s office, asking him to keep the aid promise.
— Enough Food IF (@EnoughFoodIF) March 19, 2013
Mar 4th, 2013 11:41 AM UTC
By Joseph Powell
This post was original published in the New Statesman.
Sometimes good news isn’t boring.
Since 2005, when hundreds of thousands of people marched on Edinburgh ahead of the G8 in support of the Make Poverty History campaign, child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa is down by 18 per cent and 21 million more children are in school.
African leadership, with financial support from the G8 and other donors, has delivered a remarkable success story that far too few people know about.
Our new report Summit in Sight: The G8 and Africa from Gleneagles to Lough Erne shows that this progress has not happened by accident. African leadership has helped the region to grow by an average of 5 per cent GDP for the past eight years, increasing the resources that governments have to spend on health and education.
It was also a deliberate decision by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to put African development issues at the top of the agenda for the Gleneagles summit in 2005 and to give it the political attention necessary to deliver a strong agreement. Eight years later there is an extra £7bn in development aid going to sub-Saharan Africa every year from G8 countries, and the agreement on debt relief has wiped out £22bn. Like all ventures, some of this aid fails but the vast majority improves the lives of some of the world’s poorest people, for example by paying for 5.4 million more people to access anti HIV/AIDS treatment.
In the UK, this commitment to extra funding has continued under the coalition government and in this month’s Budget, George Osborne can make good on the UK’s promise to assign 0.7 per cent of national income to the aid budget from 2013. It would be the wrong time to abandon this promise and it is to the government’s credit that the UK is continuing to lead by example within the G8.
While significant progress has been made, that is no reason for complacency. Hunger in Africa has barely decreased since 2005 and despite increases in GDP, inequality remains a severe challenge. African governments and citizens will be the primary drivers of change and the G8 should support that by agreeing an ambitious package on transparency and tax at Lough Erne this summer.
It should make progress on giving citizens the information they need to hold their leaders to account and hasten the day when aid is no longer necessary. It should also follow through on its 2012 promise to work with African governments to lift 50 million people out of poverty through investments in agriculture.
This requires the G8 to start by getting its own house in order. David Cameron should secure a commitment from all countries to lift the veil of secrecy on company ownership by putting the names of the ultimate beneficial owners into public registries. This would crack down on shell companies, lifting the veil of secrecy that shrouds illicit financial flows out of Africa.
Cameron should also get agreement for all oil, gas and mining companies listed in G8 countries to report the payments they make to governments around the world, on a project-by-project basis. Finally, to ensure this progress in transparency translates into accountability, and ultimately improves the lives of people living in poverty, urgently needed support should be found for supreme audit institutions, revenue authorities and anti-corruption champions.
These are not simple wins for any leader – the reforms challenge vested interests and the systemic causes of poverty that have kept power out of the hands of the many for too long. Cameron must invest time and political capital if he is to emulate the Labour government’s achievements at Gleneagles. His “golden thread” theory of development is potentially transformative if translated into real policy progress on hard issues in June.
The galvanising effect of the 2005 G8 commitments has helped deliver an extraordinary eight years of progress. Now this government must show they are up to the task.
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:20 AM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
There’s a scandal on the horizon that you really should be aware of. Overseas aid could soon subject millions more kids to homework.
I know. The fact that 16 million more children could go to school by 2015 because of UK aid and the generosity of the British people shocks me too – and there are bound to be some up in arms IF it happens.
But that’s a big IF, and it depends on us. For decades campaigners like you have been pushing our government to deliver on their promise to hit the UN’s target of spending just 0.7% of national income on aid – less than a penny in the pound. The Chancellor’s Budget on March 20th will be a decisive moment for this campaign.
You can do something simple to help right now by adding your name to the letter that we’ll send to your MP, asking them to urge the Chancellor, George Osborne, to continue Britain’s proud leadership in helping the world’s poorest lift themselves out of poverty.
You may have seen the stories in the media talking down the great results that aid has achieved, but the reality is that UK aid has been helping to change millions of lives. With the end of extreme poverty in sight, this one last push is very much worth it.
In the last two years alone, UK aid has helped 5.3 million children start primary school, and if the Chancellor stands by his promise, we could see a child vaccinated every two seconds between now and 2015 thanks to the support of the British people. This is surely something everyone can get behind.
It’s up to us to make sure that our MPs know the full story, and in turn do what they can to urge the Chancellor to do what’s right. We’re working with over 140 organisations as part of Enough Food for Everyone IF to help make this big IF happen.
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:05 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Today ONE launches a new report that looks at the progress made in fighting extreme poverty since the historic pledges made by world leaders at Gleneagles in 2005.
Get the headline facts from the graphic below, or if you want to delve deeper, read the full report.
Feb 21st, 2013 2:43 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post
The aid debate in the UK at the moment needs one of those furniture labels: “highly flammable – keep away from naked flame”. If you go near it with anything at all combustible, you’re likely to get burnt.
There’s a big question over whether David Cameron’s reported comments on the way back from his India trade mission, in which appeared to suggest using more aid money for military spending, actually amounted to much. But in the fevered pre-budget climate in Britain, they have caused excitement and alarm.
The fact is, channelling aid money through defence budgets on any scale would quickly hit a large brick wall in the form of the internationally-agreed definition of Official Development Assistance (which Downing Street have made clear the prime minister does not want to change). As Alex Evans points out in his blog on Global Dashboard, the rules as to what can and cannot be deemed ‘aid’ (or Overseas Development Assistance – ODA – as the wonks call it) are pretty strict. The only spending that would be allowed through the MOD on peacekeeping or security is the sort of spending that the Department for International Development is undertaking already (human rights, rehabilitation of demobilised soldiers, mine removal etc.). Indeed, DFID is currently ranked as the most transparent and effective development department in the world and the UK’s security-focused aid spending was recently ranked as above average by the Center for Global Development; above the likes of the United States, Netherlands and Sweden.
However, while in truth there is little chance of Mr Cameron diverting a large amount of aid money to pay for defence, the way his comments have been seized upon risk setting up a false debate, with those backing aid spending and those backing defence spending at each others’ throats.
Look at the numbers. As our neat little tax calculator shows, a UK taxpayer earning £30,000 per year will pay £7,065 in tax. Of that, £67 will go to the aid budget and £403 towards defence. That leaves £6,595 for everything else. A proper debate about government spending should surely recognise that pitching defence spending against aid is like robbing a pretty hard-up Peter to pay an even more impoverished Paul. If you want to find where the money is in the UK budget, you don’t go to aid and you probably don’t go to defence either.
As for relieving poverty in countries hit by conflict: everyone who has worked in development knows it is hard, but it can be done. The DFID is right to look more closely at this, as the secretary of state Justine Greening promised to do when she set out her thinking at a ONE event two weeks ago.
Reducing poverty through effective aid bolsters the UK’s strategic and foreign policy interests. For relatively small amounts of money the UK is able to play a key role in some of the most vulnerable and unstable parts of the planet. As former chief of defence staff Lord Stirrup has argued, “Helping people in these areas to self-reliance… to lift themselves out of poverty and to counter ignorance, will reduce the risk of conflict”.
The UK government is showing global leadership in meeting the UN target to spend 0.7% of income on development in the year that we host the G8. Transparent aid, monitored for effectiveness, has had an enormous catalytic effect. Globally, extreme poverty has halved and child deaths dropped by more than 40% just two decades. The day when aid is no longer needed is getting closer. To turn away now would be in nobody’s interest.
Follow Adrian Lovett on Twitter: www.twitter.com/adrianlovett
Feb 12th, 2013 3:33 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
For months now, we’ve called and you answered. You signed our petition, wrote letters and sent postcards, delivering our critical message directly to leaders in capitals across Europe: leaders must protect lifesaving development aid in the on-going EU budget negotiations.
Your voice was heard.
When leaders arrived in Brussels last Thursday for what would become the final budget negotiation between governments, levels of development aid were being threatened with potentially deep cuts. But thanks in large part to your incredible campaigning in these final weeks, when the numbers were released, development aid to the world’s poorest was protected at current levels, despite cuts to the overall EU budget for the first time in history.
Though the EU still has a long way to go in order to keep its promises to the world’s poorest, we managed to avoid a disastrous step back. It was the voices of citizens across Europe that helped ensure that current levels of aid were protected.
However, the fight isn’t over yet. We’ll need you in this final battle of the campaign as we work to make sure the European Parliament will do everything within its power to protect lifesaving aid to the poorest before they sign off the deal.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us this far. We couldn’t do it without you.
Feb 6th, 2013 12:35 PM UTC
By Diane Sheard
2013 is a crucial year for development, with the UK in a unique position to demonstrate international leadership in the fight against extreme poverty. Just last week, we saw the Prime Minister visit Liberia to discuss the post-2015 development agenda, and here in the UK we saw the launch of the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign which has started the countdown to the G8 Summit in June.
With so much going on, we are especially pleased that Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, will give a keynote speech at a ONE event on Thursday 7 February. In her speech, entitled ‘Development in Transition’, we expect Ms Greening to set out her priorities for the year, and explain how she and the Department for International Development will respond to the main challenges in the fight against global poverty.
Alas, spaces at the event are limited, but we still want ONEmembers to get involved! Tweet us @ONEcampaignUK with your reply to the following question and we’ll make sure that Ms Greening and everyone else in the room sees it:
“What’s the biggest thing that could make a difference in the fight to end extreme poverty?”
Please use the #ONEquestion hashtag. We will be displaying tweets at the event, and will read out the best ones.
You can follow the event as it happens on Twitter, and we will be posting a full report of Ms Greening’s speech later this week.
Feb 6th, 2013 12:31 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
Tomorrow, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to decide the EU budget for 2014-2020, including the proposed €51 billion of lifesaving EU aid to the world’s poorest.
EU aid works. Between 2004 and 2009, it helped enrol more than 9 million children in primary education, vaccinate 5.5 million children against measles, and connect more than 31 million people to clean water. If the proposed €51 billion EU aid budget is adopted, in the next 7 years 15 million more children could be enrolled in school, 9 million more could be vaccinated and 51 million more people could be connected to clean water.
But proposals for smart European aid are under serious threat. At the last summit in November, proposed development assistance to the world’s poorest was slashed by €6.1bn. And some leaders want to make even deeper cuts that could take funds below current spending levels: this would have a devastating impact.
Ahead of this week’s critical talks, ONE members from all over Europe have been rallying to ask European leaders to protect lifesaving EU aid at the proposed levels.
In the next step of our Lifesaver campaign, ONE estimated that it would cost just 3 euro cents (or 2 pence) per week, per EU citizen to reverse proposed cuts to aid for the poorest. ONE members have therefore decided to make their small change count! In the UK, over 2000 ONE members have asked for postcards to send their 2 pence to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to protect proposals for lifesaving EU aid in the budget negotiations. In Germany, ONE members have sent postcards to Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding their 3 cents. In Brussels, the team collected by hand over 230 postcards for President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy including around 60 Brussels-based interns and young professionals who came to our meet-up last week. ONE Brussels hand delivered postcards to Van Rompuy’s staff and passed on the message that Europeans are counting on him to ensure their voices are heard. ONE has also started handing in postcards to the other European governments at their embassies in Brussels.
In France, as part of the French version of ONE’s Lifesaver campaign, “sauveteur du siècle”, ONE members have mailed more than 500 postcards to President François Hollande, urging him to make sure that, in Winter sales season, EU leaders don’t try to make savings on the back of the world’s poorest.
In parallel, ONE also estimated how much it would cost each government per year to reverse the cuts to the proposed €51 billion for EU aid. For Germany that’s €174mn, for the UK €113mn and for France €154mn – peanuts compared to overall annual government spending.
Beside the “Make Your Change Count” action, ONE has also launched a tumblr blog (in French, German and English), a hilarious take on the serious day-to-day work of Lifesaver campaigners fighting to protect aid in the EU budget.
Finally, in order to help people get their heads around the confusing EU budget figures, we have produced an infographic on what current cuts on the table to the proposal for EU development aid could actually mean on the ground. The figures are stark: if the proposed cuts are agreed on, 1.9 million less pupils could be enrolled in primary school. If deeper cuts are decided, the impacts would be even worse. The infographic is also available in French and in German.
Why not help spread the word? You can start by signing ONE’s petition to protect European aid.
And to learn more about the impact of EU aid on the ground read these 5 stories about successful EU-funded projects in Africa.
This week really matters – we’ll keep you updated and hope to see EU leaders doing the right thing tomorrow and protecting lifesaving EU aid for the world’s poorest.
Feb 4th, 2013 12:00 PM UTC
By Dudley Curtis
This Thursday EU leaders will return to Brussels for a crucial summit that will decide the EU’s budget for the next seven years. At stake is a proposed EUR 51 billion of aid to the world’s poorest countries. Cuts to this funding could be so deep that existing EU programmes may not have the money to continue.
One week before these critical talks, we invited around 60 of Brussels’ brightest – interns and young professionals who work in and around the EU institutions – to a meet-up to introduce our work and inspire action at a crucial time.
After a short intro and presentation of our European Aid: View from the Street clip, the room was buzzing (in all the beautiful accents of Europe) with ideas on how to get the word out.
And our newest advocates wasted no time adding their voices to the fight. To reverse the looming cuts to the proposed levels of lifesaving aid to the world’s poorest, it would cost EU citizens just 3 cents per week. So everyone who came took action by adding 3 cents to postcards with messages asking leaders to protect proposed levels of funding for development. These postcards will be hand delivered to President Van Rompuy’s office and the embassies of EU member states in Brussels ahead of the summit this week.
We hope this symbolic gesture illustrates that EU citizens know that this small change can have a huge impact. And we look forward to our new members sharing ONE’s message in and around the EU institutions in this crucial week.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.