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Nik Gill

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Can first world countries spend their overseas aid budgets more effectively?

On March 20th 2013, Great Britain's government firmly backed a legislation that would ensure that 0.7% (~£11 Billion) of Gross National Income will be spent on Overseas Aid.

With many skeptics feeling that this money is often wasted or better spent in more important areas, how would you like to see this money spent to change the perception that International Aid isn't effective?

Myself and Maddy Nash would love to hear your thoughts!

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  • Apr 7 2013: It's such a conundrum - how can we justify spending so much money on aid for other countries when we know that a) a large proportion of that money will actually not reach those who need it - either through corruption or simply the logistical costs of running that kind of operation; and b) when economic strife and social issues are already so prevalent within our own country, let alone abroad.

    I think at the end of the day, even if just one tenth of what is spent on aid actually gets to its intended destination then it's worth it. Why? Because lives will be improved and saved and you cannot put a price on that.

    The work that needs to be done now is to optimise and improve the channels through which the money moves from government to its intended destination. This of course is easier said than done for a variety of reasons - for a start, the exact people who are proficient in managing this kind of process are also the ones who expect larger salaries! Organisational costs for running a program like this effectively can quickly spiral to a substantial % of the original sum. There is also a high amount of awareness and indignation around corruption in certain countries, when foreign aid cash is pumped in only for a senior government minister to purchase themselves a nice new car. Generally this is the exception not the rule, but this perception fuels unease around upping the amount of foreign aid we commit to.

    I'd personally like to see the process of getting aid to where it needs to be streamlined and as much of the "fat" cut off from around the edges as possible. Continuing to work with other governments around the globe to ensure this happens is also paramount. I totally accept that this will be neither quick nor easy to achieve! Hopefully, given time and investment we will continue to improve the situations of millions of people around the globe in an increasingly effective way.
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      Apr 8 2013: Hi Louise!

      Thanks for joining our conversation. As Maddy said, it's great to hear that again, the giving of aid is not in question but more the way in which it is currently being distributed.

      Sadly there are many skeptics out there that would like to see the Overseas Aid budget in the UK reduced or completely cut off. As you say, there is no quick and easy fix to make the budgets that we send overseas 100% efficient but we can begin to evolve this process.

      I agree with your point that there will always be an element of government interaction that we cannot get away from when providing aid, even if it is without countries that are 'mis-spending' funds.

      As you say, if we can 'streamline' the giving of aid to the very people that need it most then we will go a long way to providing aid that is more effective. One idea was to build an independent global committee that would be responsible for deciding where all monetary funding should go (having investigated the individual plights of each country). Essentially, this would mean having one humanitarian body that was in touch with local needs of many LEDCs but at the same time this would need the backing of every country that contributes funding, which could prove difficult. However, the net benefit would be to ensure that certain countries were not given too much / too little aid vs. others.

      If you have any thoughts on how we can make things better, and potentially increase the amount of money given overseas (by optimising our existing investment) please let us know.

      Thank you for taking the time to participate in our debate Louise,
      Nik

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