Published on February 11th, 2013 |
by Zaynab Lulat
Image © Oxfam East Africa, via Wikimedia Commons
The Ripple Effect: Aid and international development
Aid has been under attack the last few weeks. The following questions have been raised: where does the money go? Why do countries like the U.K and U.S still have to give a leg up to other countries? Why can’t the Britain and America support themselves, especially in times of austerity? It appears more people are looking inwardly at the country, and seeing development issues as separate from themselves. It is timely that January saw the launch of the IF campaign, which aims to tackle global hunger, which means tackling it in all countries.
‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ is the largest coalition of charities since Make Poverty History in 2005, it brings together over 100 charities under the one common goal of ending hunger. The coalition places emphasis on four main ‘IFs’: transparency, fair taxation, keeping the pledge of donating 0.7% of the national income on aid and finally for food to be treated as food not fuel.
The campaign has faced criticism from different platforms, some suggest that too many issues are being tackled, others have argued that it is not radical enough and poverty as a whole need to be eradicated. A problem with past campaigns has been the aim to do too much in too little time. However focusing on hunger makes the issue liner and better understood. With nearly one billion people going to bed hungry each night, and malnutrition being responsible for over 2 millions child deaths, hunger appears to be an obvious starting point when addressing poverty and development All four IFs have the central focus of hunger- thus it’s easier to address, but still difficult to tackle because of the scale of the problem.
Many onlookers will see the campaign as another way to transfer money from ‘developed nations’ to the developing countries in Africa and Asia. However the campaign realises that in the current socio-economic climate, issues like land grabs and bio-fuels need to be better understood by all of society because it affects everyone. One example of ‘cause and effect’ is that many farmers have their land grabbed after owning it for centuries because they have no documentation to prove ownership. This land is then used to produce crops for biofuels. However, when fewer farms produce food for human consumption, it will inevitably raise the price of staple foods- across the world, which is one of the reasons we see supermarket prices rising.
Other issues such as tax and transparency have had much more media focus in Britain since the Starbucks tax scandal in late 2012. Many countries lose out on billions of dollars that could be used for health clinics and education because multi-national companies channel money out of the country through tax schemes and loopholes. The money being lost in tax avoidance schemes is no small figure. The billions of dollars being lost could go a long way in reducing the problems faced in these countries, as education and health would be better funded. Tax loopholes are fundamental to making countries more self sufficient and transparency is needed to ensure governments are acting on behalf of their people.
The idea that international development issues are separate from ourselves is untrue. It takes a global effort to make large scale changes. We are living in a truly globalised world, where the decisions and actions made in one country will have a ripple effect across the globe. Make Poverty History raised the profile of the plight that many faced and created a certain level of social consciousness among individuals. Now the IF Campaign hopes to build on this, by tackling the single concept of hunger on different levels, by addressing individuals, corporations and governments.