Activist countries

These rich countries plan to reduce their aid. It couldn’t come at a worse time.

Reduce poverty in the world. Support millions of girls in education. Prevent people from being hungry. Ensure millions of safe births. Help eradicate poliomyelitis almost completely. Help in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM). Provide millions of food rations to Syrian refugees. Construction of schools and toilets in Kenya. Giving vital relief to Afghan villagers after an earthquake destroyed thousands of homes.

International aid has done all of this and more over the years, but despite a diabolical cocktail of global crises, in 2022 some of the world’s wealthiest countries plan to wipe out their vital aid budgets. These are decisions made by political elites in the safety of glass houses, but the repercussions are felt by the world’s most vulnerable.

When the UK cut its international aid budget – also known as official development assistance or ODA – in 2020, for example, it meant aid sent to Syria was cut by 69% , including cuts to education, health, maternity health and programs for Palestinian refugees. As a result, according to the charity Syria Relief, more than 40,000 Syrian children are out of school as a direct result of aid cuts.

In 1970, the United Nations set a target for countries to contribute 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) to international aid. But the 0.7% target is just that: a target and is not required by law.

With climate change induced floods in Nigeria and Pakistan; millions of acutely hungry people in Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia; an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in which millions of Afghans are suffering from starvation, some even being forced to sell body parts to feed their families; the continuing refugee crisis in Syria where millions of people are still living in displacement camps more than 10 years after the start of the conflict; and the famine in Tigray, activists agree that it is more important than ever to maintain, and even increase, international aid.

But we see a worrying trend of donor countries cutting their budgets. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help.

Who gives Aid the Chop?

Norway

Norway, a former leader in international aid, announced on October 6 its intention to reduce the proportion of gross national income it spends on foreign aid from 1.15% to 0.75%. This translates to a reduction of 47.4 billion kroner ($4.5 billion) to 43.8 billion Norwegian kroner ($4.1 billion).

If the proposed budget cut materializes, 0.75% would be the lowest amount of foreign aid the country has contributed since 1976.

NGOs called the decision “annoyingand a bad example for the rest of the world.

Sweden

Sweden has also signaled its intention to cut its foreign aid budget. The country’s former target of spending 1% of its gross national income on aid will be abolished, according to an announcement made on October 17, 2022.

A European Commission official summed up the news: “One of the vouchers has been lost.

UK

In 2020, the UK cut its international aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% – although the 0.7% is actually enshrined in UK law. The reasoning was sparse, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer noted it was because the UK was going through an ‘unprecedented period of crisis’.

The cut from 0.7% to 0.5% represented a cut of £4.5billion, bringing the amount of aid the UK gives each year to £10billion. To put that into perspective, the UK spends £19 billion a year on food waste alone.

Italy

In 2021, Italy’s ratio of ODA to its gross national income (GNI) was 0.28%, up from 0.22% in 2020. But it is still far from the 0.7% recommended by the UN. With the new right-wing government under Giorgia Meloni, we don’t have much hope that this will change in the near future.

Who are the new aid champions?

Spain

Spain sets an excellent example of international aid spending. In October 2022, Spain announced that it would increase aid from 0.28% of the country’s gross national income in 2022 to 0.34% of GNI in 2023, an increase of 912 million euros (890 million) – and there’s even more where that came from.

In early 2022, the Spanish government launched a new bill for sustainable development cooperation and global solidarity. The new bill would include, for the first time in Spain’s history, the target of increasing Spain’s ODA to 0.7% of GNI by 2030, making the government Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez a true champion of ODA.

Who’s still on the fence?

Germany

Germany is currently negotiating its 2023 budget.

The energy crisis and inflation have hit Europe’s biggest economy for good and the latest draft budget marks an overall 10% cut in public spending – which also applies to ODA and humanitarian aid.

The Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the department that formulates German development policy, has been allocated 11.1 billion euros for next year, a decrease of 1.3 billion euros. euros or 10% compared to 2022.

Of particular concern is that contributions to multilateral organizations such as the World Food Program (WFP), UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) will be drastically reduced, undermining the role of the Germany as a champion of global cooperation.

How can I help you?

ODA is more essential than ever, as millions of people around the world face increasing hardship amid unprecedented global crises.

You can help by joining Global Citizens in supporting our End Extreme Poverty NOW campaign – which prioritizes empowering women and girls, climate action, breaking down the systemic barriers that keep people in poverty and to uplift and protect activists around the world – calling on those governments to increase their aid budgets.

1. Put pressure on Germany

2. Put the heat on Canada

3. Demand UK Recovery Aid