Sunday 18 February 2018

Aid programmes are of questionable help

We're broke and we just can't afford our huge overseas aid budget any more, argues Eamon Delaney

Last week, I found myself again on TV debating the issue of overseas aid, and the fact that bankrupt Ireland is still sending €700m abroad in development assistance -- far too much money for a small country which is broke. Eighty per cent of the aid goes to Africa. The commitment, made at the height of the Celtic Tiger, made us the sixth largest donor in the world, per capita -- an amazing statistic.

However, the continuing amazement of the media at this fact is not one shared by the political culture, which has been totally unwilling to enter into a debate about it. Think about it: €700m is almost the same amount of money as the much-trumpeted cut that we got from Brussels last week. And the money is not going on emergency aid such as the present crisis in Somalia, where it is really needed, but on long term 'development' assistance to countries like Malawi -- where last week there was rioting because of the government's ongoing suppression of the opposition.

Indeed, the perceived lack of an energetic response from Western countries to the current famine in Somalia is said to be precisely because they suffer from donor fatigue -- having given so much money already in ongoing development aid to the region. Such as us, giving €700m.

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