The benefits of overseas aid
(Text of a letter published in the Sunday Business Post, 25 July 2010)
Earlier this month, when Minister Martin reported in the Oireachtas on his trip to Ethiopia and Uganda, he spoke of the “enormous progress” made in that country in the last 25 years. The Minister’s trip showed, again, that Ireland’s overseas aid programme is working, and that Irish aid is making real and lasting changes in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
The Minister’s trip is one more illustration that the ‘recipe’ to eradicate the worst forms of poverty – the eight “millennium development goals” – is working, and that 11 of the 20 countries making the most absolute progress towards the Goals are amongst the poorest countries in Africa.
The investment of the past is now making a tangible and large-scale difference, and Africa’s economies are growing at ever increasing rates. Overseas aid is contributing to international stability, and it is encouraging trade and helping to create new economic partnerships with Africa’s 900 million potential producers and consumers.
Aid is helping to improve the climate for investment in developing countries and is generating enormous amounts of good-will towards Ireland and Irish companies. Our aid programme is the catalyst for many of these opportunities. What’s more, it is Ireland’s calling card to the world.
And our overseas aid programme can help us get out of the downturn: Our strategy to combat the recession is based on the need to repair the damage to our international reputation that has arisen out of the banking crisis. We now need to demonstrate that we are a country capable of keeping its promises, and willing to play its full role in the global society of states. Through the aid programme, we are given a chance to do just that.
We must, therefore, deliver on our overseas aid promise. We cannot afford not to.