Aid alone will not end Poverty – As we keep undermining its effectiveness

07/12/2012 at 6:57 pm 3 comments

At Dóchas, we have for many years now argued that aid alone will not make poverty history.

(see also this blog post)

Overseas aid is important. But aid cannot lift countries out of poverty if they are not being given a fair chance to participate in global trade.
Aid cannot compete with subsidies, trade rules and migration policies that present real obstacles for poor countries wishing to work their way out of poverty.

Aid can help relieve suffering and enhance opportunities for prosperity. Aid can save lives and provide essential services to vulnerable people. Aid can provide funds and advice for immunisation campaigns, education drives and training of health workers. Aid can help reform governments and encourage citizen participation in public policy. But aid will not work if it continues to be undermined by unfair economic policies (a fact systematically overlooked by many aid critics)

The EU acknowledged this, and in the Lisbon Treaty EU member states gave themselves a legal obligation to minimise instances of “policy incoherence” impacting negatively on global development. (See this overview of European policy commitments in this area)

There are a number of interesting reports on how well, or how badly, European countries are managing to live up to their commitments:

And in this blog post, Owen Barder and colleagues at the Centre for Global Development say that “if European countries are serious about development – and not just giving aid – then we must also consider how European policies on trade, investment, migration, environment, technology and security all affect the developing world.”

They go on to say that:

“Europe’s approach to development could be characterised as energetically tackling the symptoms of poor economic opportunities for developing countries by providing substantial and effective aid, while doing relatively little to tackle the underlying structural causes of poverty.”

Check out the CGD’s new Europe Beyond Aid initiative, launched in December 2012, which is based on that organisation’s Commitment to Development Index.

As Owen Barder says in his blog post:

“The big picture is fairly straightforward. Europe has generous and effective aid programmes, and makes a distinct contribution to global environmental challenges. But Europe’s policies on trade (especially agriculture), security and sharing technology have much less positive impact on development.”

High time to change that.

(And we will try to do just that, as we kick off the Irish EU Presidency with an event on Policy Coherence, on 25 January)

Dóchas on Policy Coherence for Development:
Policy Coherence (blog post)
Policy Coherence – Trade (blog post)
Being a Champion for Development – Dóchas presentation to Inter-Departmental Committee on Development (2008)
Policy Coherence for Development – Ireland (2010)
Dóchas resources on Policy Coherence
– “Why foreign aid fails – and how to really help Africa (2014)

Entry filed under: Government, Overseas aid. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Aid Effectiveness? – Donors not making enough progress, says NGO report Time to hear from the urban poor

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