Andy's Blog

A Blog about me, Andy. The name says it all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DFID White Paper and other things

I haven't blogged in ages because the internet has been removed from my home so now my blogging opportunities have been severly limited!

Anyway, here are a couple of things I meant to blog about but have only just got the chance to...

DFID White Paper

DFID have just published a new white paper, which sets out their direction for international development for the coming years.

Whilst there's a lot of good stuff in it, particularly the empowerment of state governments and improving global governance and environmental aspects, there's a lot that's a bit vague and disappointing too.

Firstly, it all gets a bit muddy when starts talking about fighting corruption and promoting security. Whilst this is a very difficult thing to do, and it's important to attempt to tackle it as well, the policies that it sets forward don't seem to do anything new.

Secondly, there is an over-reliance on ecoonomic growth to lift people out of poverty. Sure, economic growth is an important tool in fighting poverty, but it has to be measured and equal and be one tool in a range of measures in tackling poverty. The trickle down effect, if it works at all (not according to some economists), is simply too far away to deliver the results that poor people need now. Sure, some families may go from $1 a day to $2 a day, but does that really make a difference when you have to pay for your child's education and your health care? The injust cause by the global system of financing, which our governments made, has put poor people in the position they're in. It's up to us, rather than simply neo-liberal economics, to get them out of it.

I was also disappointed by the lack of focus on the contribution that NGOs make to development. Simply saying, NGOs are good at empowerment on a community level (which is true), misses a large amount of the work that charities do in fighting poverty - both in-country and in the UK. Would we be talking about ending poverty if the community of international charities hadn't come together to make the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign? Probably not. I have a feeling that the government is trying to sideline NGOs. Through increasingly supporting developing countries governments directly, aid is being delivered in a new way. Charities are increasingly having to prove that the money they spent is being spent effectively. There is less and less money available from the government for NGOs. Charities often deliver vital services, even where the government is strong. Without continued support for NGOs, who's going to deliver these services until governments are ready?

Also, I thought the paper on the consultation that DFID carried out was very condesending. Addressing the reader in the second person made me feel like a school child being looked down upon by a stuffy teacher. "You thought this...". Also, highlighting the fact that there was a difference in opinion on some matters ("Some of you thought this, whilst others thought..."), just made it seem like there was a right answer and a wrong answer. A gold sticker to the people who thought that economic growth can lead to poverty reduction, and detention for the rest of you.

Made me think of Matt Gilbert

I think Matt Gilbert would have had a lot in common with the Queen Mother.


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