Britain was one of 6 donors to meet or exceed the UN’s target for international aid spending during 2015. Against a backdrop of anti-aid sentiment, data compiled by the OECD has showed that the UK’s aid spend in 2015 – which sat at 0.7% of GNI was exceeded by only five countries: Demark, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Criticism of UK foreign aid spending has increased significantly over the past month from MPs and the media, however those within the aid world have welcomed the figures that show the UK is still a leader in development.
In the face of growing negativity Oxfam have stated that it was ‘heartening’ that the UK remained one of the largest donors of overseas aid. Indeed, many view our 0.7% spending commitment as a testament to British peoples’ generosity and empathy. Those also coming to the defense of UK aid spending were Christian Aid and Save the Children. The largest recipient of ODA in 2015 was Syria, with $4.9bn, followed by Afghanistan with $4.3bn, Pakistan ($3.8bn ), and then Ethiopia and India, who received $3.2bn each.
Undoubtedly there is some work to be done to ensure that the UK taxpayers’ money is as efficiently spent as possible and this means cracking down on incompetent organizations and mega-salaries for those in charge – something Ms. Priti Patel has been very firm on.
The criticism at present may seem relentless but if it results in more focused and sustainable aid spending then it will have been worth it. The situation we face now is causing civil servants and politicians to wake up and recognise what works and what doesn’t. This will hopefully lead to greater focus on economic and trade related projects – providing prosperity and economic empowerment for those leased empowered, and less focus on quick fixes.