0.7% on aid: a small contribution towards justice and equality

June 2016

There is more to fighting poverty and inequality than just giving aid. This briefing argues that to address the huge inequality of wealth and power that exists in the world, there needs to be fundamental change to the way the global economy works. Aid can play an important part, especially if it is understood as a form of international wealth redistribution. To work most effectively, aid needs to deal with the root causes of poverty and inequality, and not be used to meet the UK’s national political and economic interests.

Where do we stand on aid?

Global Justice Now supports spending at least 0.7% of our national income on aid. Having a legally binding commitment to pay our fair share in the fight against poverty is an important gesture. Although we recognise that aid will never be the only solution to addressing deep structural inequality, we believe that it can play an important part in restoring north-south justice.

But to do this, we must move away from the idea that aid is charity and towards considering aid to be a form of international wealth redistribution. That has implications for the way we do aid. Aid-as-redistribution requires a far higher level of beneficiary ownership and control over aid, not just by governments but by civil society.

The problem with aid

Too often aid is not reaching those who need it, but ends up furthering the business interests and boosting the profits of multinational companies.

In agriculture, UK aid is making it easier for large food and agricultural corporations to dominate seed, land and food markets, through schemes such as the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which receives £600 million from DFID. In a damning report, the European parliament found the New Alliance operates on the flawed assumption that corporate investment in agriculture automatically improves food security and nutrition and reduces poverty.

Meanwhile, the UK’s aid budget has been used to support the privatisation of public services. DFID contributed £23 million for the expansion of low-cost private schools in Kenya and.£50 million for the privatisation of Nigeria’s electricity system. A growing for-profit development sector has emerged in response to increases in the aid budget and cuts in DFID staff. This has led to an elite club of private consultants and contractors reaping huge profits from UK aid, winning 12% of DFID’s entire budget in 2013-14.

Download full briefing below.

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