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Anglican Alliance director calls on UK Government to rethink plans to cut spending to the poorest countries.

Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:21 AM
Related Categories: Anglican Alliance

By ACNS staff

The UK government's aid arm the Department for International Development (DFID), in its report “Changing Lives, Delivering Results” has proposed cutbacks in funding for some multilateral agencies, and also cuts in spending to some developing countries. Director of the Anglican Communion's Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy Sally Keeble has today asked for a meeting with DFID officials to go through details of the proposed cuts which would have a serious impact on people in some very poor  countries.

In a letter to Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, she writes: “In particular the decision not to fund work in Burundi, Lesotho, Niger, Cameroon, Angola and the Gambia puts  pressure on some of the poorest countries, which have very particular challenges in terms of size, geography and in some instances conflict. Lesotho, for example, has suffered major loss of its adult population through HIV and Aids and its geography makes economic diversification problematic.

"The position of Burundi has been put to your department recently by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi [Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi]. The direction of relatively small amounts of money away from these countries will have a disproportionate and negative effect. I would ask that you look again at the detail of the priorities for spending so that the lowest income countries may be given an opportunity to meet the concerns of DFID about their capacity to deliver, or that funds could be delivered through different, and more effective mechanisms.

"It would be especially helpful to have a meeting with your officials to go through the details of the methodologies that led to the conclusions to withdraw funds from these very low income countries, and to know what opportunities there might be to restore funding."

The full text of Sally Keeble's letter can be found below.

ENDS

For an more information or an interview with Sally Keeble contact Mr Jan Butter on +447889400889

Notes to Editors:

  • The Anglican Alliance for development, relief and advocacy is the international initiative that brings together work across the communion. Its mission is to build on the work already being undertaken across the communion, build capacity, co-ordinate and provide a clear voice for the Communion in international development.
  • The Department for International Development (DFID) is the part of the UK government that manages Britain's aid to poor countries and works to get rid of extreme poverty. As well as headquarters in London and East Kilbride, near Glasgow, DFID has offices in around 40 developing countries and provides aid to around 90 countries.
  • The Anglican Communion Office serves the Anglican Communion, comprising around 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 160 countries. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
Secretary of State for International Development
DFID
1 Palace St
London    SW1

Dear Andrew

RE: DFID Aid Review

I am writing in response to the report published today of the DFID review, “Changing Lives, Delivering Results.”

The decision by the Coalition Government to retain the commitment to international development, and to achieve the 0.7 per cent of GDP spending target for the aid budget was laudable, especially at a time of fiscal constraint .It sets a standard for the rest of the international community.  It is also important to ensure that public spending is properly targeted, and this too becomes, as you have rightly said, especially important at times when people in the UK see the spending on their local services being cut.

However, there are points of concern within the Anglican Communion about the results of the review, and the impact on people in some very poor countries. In particular the decision not to fund work in Burundi, Lesotho, Niger, Cameroon, Angola and the Gambia puts particular pressure on some of the poorest countries, which have very particular challenges in terms of size, geography and in some instances conflict. The DFID methodology considered the capacity of countries to spend aid effectively, and it is of course important that UK taxpayers money does not disappear into budgetary support for ineffective governments or programmes.

However, it is also important that there is an opportunity for some countries to improve their capacity, or for aid to be committed but delivered through different channels. Lesotho, for example, has suffered major loss of its adult population through HIV and Aids and its geography makes economic diversification problematic. The position of Burundi has been put to your department recently by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi. The direction of relatively small amounts of money away from these countries will have a disproportionate and negative effect.

I would ask that you look again at the detail of the priorities for spending so that the lowest income countries may be given an opportunity to meet the concerns of DFID about their capacity to deliver, or that funds could be delivered through different, and more effective mechanisms. 

It would be especially helpful to have a meeting with your officials to go through the details of the methodologies that led to the conclusions to withdraw funds from these very low income countries, and to know what opportunities there might be to restore funding.
UK Aid has been very highly regarded internationally, especially as it is accompanied by high quality advice and support: its loss will be a major blow to the countries concerned.

Yours sincerely,

Sally Keeble

Director, Anglican Alliance