Now that the whole world feels poor and debt relief is out of fashion, some countries are left with big debts at high ratesAusterity is more than just a European response to the 2008 financial crash. It is the common response of indebted countries wher…Read more
Shortfall in standards casts doubt on transparency of Britain’s aid spendingToo much of Britain’s aid budget is being spent poorly by Whitehall departments on projects that fail the test of reducing poverty in the world’s poorest countries, a campaign …Read more
Funding programme set to increase to £38m as ministers target economic benefits, but experts warn aid is not enough Britain is to double aid for economic development in Gaza and the West Bank over the next five years as part of its efforts to improve t…Read more
With the Tories sharpening their knives over international development, aid workers have to put their house in order
For at least the past decade there has been a cosy relationship between the government and the leading development charities. Whitehall has ponied up the cash, and charities such as Oxfam have spent it. The government has not asked too many searching questions about how well the money has been spent, and the charities have swallowed any misgivings about government policies.
This bargain – outsourcing on a global scale – has meant there has not been a grownup conversation about aid, even though international development has been the only department to see a meaningful increase in its budget during the austerity years.Read more
As a young officer Laurence Knoop enjoyed working with local communities so much he decided on a career change – but the transition would not be simple
As Britain was emerging from winter in early 2014, I was camped out in the dustbowl that is the Rift Valley in Kenya in 30 degree plus heat, with a daunting array of diggers, bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment before me and 30 of Her Majesty’s finest Royal Engineers at my disposal. As a young army officer, less than a year out of training, I was tasked with the construction of an airstrip for the local community, part of the British army’s efforts to maintain favour and access to training grounds in Kenya. It ended up giving me a taste for humanitarian work that I knew the army wouldn’t be able to satisfy and was the trigger for a career change.
Three years later, I am back in east Africa, this time in Uganda, working as a construction manager for an international NGO, and I am continually surprised at the similarities to my role in the military. Notwithstanding the significant cultural differences, my crew of Ugandan labourers often display similar attitudes to the British soldiers I worked with: neither group want to wear safety equipment if they can avoid it; they will cut corners to get the job done quicker; getting their pay packets is often their main focus … but equally, they work extremely hard and are proud of what they do.Read more
How can the UK government call on other countries to champion human rights and fight radicalisation, while working with such a group?
Theresa May’s confidence and supply agreement between the Tories and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) may leave the development and humanitarian sectors in the UK in a bit of a quandary – once again raising the spectre of aid and hypocrisy. How can they promote human rights abroad, while partnering with a political force that is ideologically opposed to women’s and LGBTI rights at home?Read more
We believe that structural racism impedes the progress of global development. Here are four ideas for greater equality in the sector
“I am so tired of dealing with ‘grassroots’ organisations here in Haiti. Unfortunately ‘grassroots’ means no brains and no money.”
“It doesn’t matter. Ethiopians don’t care about their children anyway.”Read more
The Guardian’s annual side event to the UN general assembly is back in September to track the progress of the sustainable development goals (SDGs)
The global goals looked challenging enough in 2015. Two years later, amid political earthquakes, tightening budgets and manmade disasters, there is a wide agreement that achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) will require nothing less than a transformative approach.Read more
The aid sector flies people thousands of miles to do jobs that could be done by locals, and pays them more as well – but just because we’re not expats doesn’t mean we’re worth less
“You must earn a lot of money as they are paying you in dollars.”
“Woah, that’s really cool working with expats.”Read more
Donors need to coordinate more and consider the needs on the ground when coming up with rules on how aid money can be spent
With more than 10 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector, working in logistics and supply chain, I have faced many challenges. The most frustrating by far? Seemingly arbitrary and nonsensical donor requirements. I don’t think we should bite the hand that feeds us – indeed, we should remember that institutional donors are the only organisations that can provide the financial muscle NGOs need to operate. However, it is vital that we openly discuss the dysfunctional outcomes resulting from donor requirements that are too strict. Other aid workers will have their own stories. Here are a couple of mine.Read more