Wednesday 17 January 2018

Charities fear Irish Aid budget cull


Donations to charities have dropped by around 10pc as people cut back on their living expenses, according to an Irish medical aid organisation.

"It wouldn't apply to Concern or Trocaire, who got a tremendous amount of money for Haiti, but there is an underlying drop of over 10 per cent," said John Fleming chief executive of eye charity Sightsavers Ireland.

"We have found that the number of people giving has stayed the same, but they're giving less," he added.

Sightsavers Ireland operates in many of Africa's poorest countries, like Liberia and Uganda, working with governments to identify areas of disability, like eye problems and blindness, and to ensure that proper state support is provided.

"Where there is a gap in the provision of services, we will step in and give support to government and local organisations," said Fleming. "It is not about charity, it is about changing the system that they have -- that is the only way it can be sustainable."

Sightsavers Ireland held its AGM in Dublin last week.

Irish Aid has described the work of Sightsavers in Mozambique as "well-thought through and systematic" in its approach. The Dublin-based organisation also recently handed over an eye clinic in Sierra Leone to the country's health ministry.

But there are fears with budgetary cuts that Irish Aid -- which distributes state funds to aid organisations -- will be drastically cutting back on the number of organisations it supports.

Currently, there is a review of the 240 beneficiaries of Irish Aid. There is a strong belief that, because of duplication of services, the number of organisations getting funding could be more than cut in half, but the full extent of the cuts won't be known until after the review.

Sunday Independent

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