On Friday 21 April, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to maintain the commitment made by the government to spending 0.7% of the Gross National Income (GNI) on international development and aid should the Conservative Party win the upcoming general election.
In 2010, enshrining the target of 0.7% in law was in the election manifestos of all three major political parties, though its passage into law was not completed until 2015. Despite being repeatedly re-endorsed at international summits since the 1970s, the UK has been one of just six nations to meet the benchmark in both law and practice.
With another general election called in the UK, spending on international aid has once again fallen underneath the spotlight in both media and social discourse. With so many domestic concerns on the political agenda, questions are being asked, and doubts cast, on whether we should maintain our commitment as a nation to international aid.
Since 1981, we have seen the number of people living in extreme poverty in the world halved; UK aid has contributed significantly to this progress. As a global society, we have also seen exciting technological and scientific innovations that allow us to lead longer, healthier lives. Foreign aid has been critical to these evolutions and lives have been saved, and improved, because of it through investments in areas including healthcare, education, agriculture and sanitation. UK Aid is internationally acknowledged for its effectiveness. The Aid Transparency index placed the UK Department For International Development (DFID) in the “very good” category in 2016.
UK NGOs play a fundamental role in development and are well respected within global civil society. They have been key partners in the success of UK Aid. Historically, faith-based organisations like All We Can, have been at the forefront of service delivery and humanitarian aid. Faith-based organisations have the capacity of reaching vulnerable communities where many other agencies can not. Organisations like All We Can also promote grassroots’ solidarity and connection between local constituencies and communities overseas, acting as a bridge between partners in developing countries and supporters in the UK.
Maurice Adams, All We Can’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We know that investing in the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest communities has an impact beyond the borders of that country. As an established Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation we applauded the UK’s commitment in 2015 to 0.7% of GNI being spent on international aid because we know aid works. The scourge of poverty and injustice diminishes our shared humanity. The benefits of effective aid can be seen in the thousands of lives of individuals who have survived diseases, been able to access clean water and have been able to learn in school.
“We encourage all political parties to remember this country’s promise to dedicate 0.7% of gross national income to international development and humanitarian aid. In 2016, at £13.3bn, Britain’s aid budget was the third biggest in the world after Germany and the US. This is something to be proud of and something to maintain”.
The UK has been a world leader in committing to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas development assistance. By meeting this global promise agreed in the United Nations every year since 2013, the UK has helped alleviate global poverty and has supported some of the world’s most vulnerable people. All We Can is joining other UK NGOs in calling on all political parties to continue to honour this commitment to spending 0.7% of the UK government’s GNI on overseas development assistance.