Tag Archives: international development

Foreign aid in a post-Brexit world

With the recent forced resignation of Priti Patel from the Department For International Development, it is time to develop the Liberal Democrats’ foreign policy in a post-Brexit Britain. It is time for the Liberal Democrats to call for a more liberal approach to the world and we should do this by following Patel’s good work on ‘trade for aid’, promoting workers’ rights and promoting freer and fairer trade.

Ms Patel started to transform what the foreign aid budget was used for, yet with her forced resignation, the Liberal Democrats must surely take up this gauntlet to champion further reforms in the …

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Malcolm Bruce: Tory Brexit plans a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Malcolm talked about Scotland’s situation and argued that independence was an even worse prospect than it was before. As someone who has extensive experience in international development, the Government’s plans to use the aid budget to sweeten Eastern Europe really upset him – despicable, he called them.

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. I am pleased to say that, although I do not always agree with him, I agreed with every word that he said.

I want to focus on two things, involving two people: the Prime Minster and the First Minister of Scotland. Before the referendum, Theresa May was billed as a reluctant remainer—but a remainer. Since the referendum she has become an enthusiastic Brexiteer leading a Government barely distinguishable from UKIP. The referendum was conducted on both sides in a climate of misinformation. A Government elected with under 37% of the vote on a 66% turnout, under a Prime Minister who was not the leader of the party or an obvious prime ministerial candidate at the last election, have decided that their interpretation of the result should be sovereign—even trying to exclude Parliament from the process.

How dare they lecture us about democracy? As Ken Clarke said, had the result gone narrowly the other way—or even substantially the other way—the Brexiteers would not have stayed quiet but now would be in full cry for a rerun, as are the nationalists in Scotland, who also pledged that this was a once-in-a-generation vote. For the Prime Minister to say, definitively, that the people have voted to leave the single market, all or part of the customs union and the European Court of Justice, as well as—and probably more importantly—other institutions of the EU, is a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership.

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LibLink: Lindsay Northover: UK aid: High impact, low cost

Former Lib Dem International Development Minister Lindsay Northover has been writing for Politics Home about the benefits for both recipients and us at home in the UK of our international aid budget. This is very important to read when it is clear that this is the next target of the right wing media and political types.

She wrote of the impact on disease prevention:

Since 2000 and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the world achieved its commitment to halve extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted globally in 2015 aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, leaving no one behind. That is a supreme challenge. But it is clearly the right thing to do and in our interest. The instability fostered in the world by poverty, migration, climate change, conflict, must be tackled collectively.

This is why my Lib Dem colleagues Michael Moore and Jeremy Purvis took their private member’s bill through Parliament in the last days of the Coalition to secure that future commitment of 0.7 percent of GNI on aid. Many members across both Houses helped us, together with NGOs, and tributes are paid to the UK internationally for making this commitment.

So let us look at disease control and elimination – which is just one area that the UK is a world leader in, but which is topical as we pass the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration in 2012, when a major increase of funding for neglected tropical diseases was announced.

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Lynne Featherstone calls on UK Government to support Women’s Health Fund to replace funds lost by Trump’s abortion gag rule

I have felt sick to the stomach virtually every day this week as new pronouncements come from the new US President. Already he’s damaged our planet by authorising new pipelines, promised to reinstate torture and proclaimed that he’s going to build that wall no matter what.

For me, though, the worst was the distasteful image of a man who has gloated about sexually assaulting women sitting, surrounded by men, signing an executive order which will ensure that vulnerable women lose their lives. He has reinstated the “global gag rule” on abortion which means that no US funds can go to organisations which provide abortion services. No US money pays for abortion services, but no organisation can receive funds for its other programmes.

The impact of this on Africa is highlighted by this Washington Post article:

In Kenya, public health experts raised immediate concerns about the new policy. Women here often resort to dangerous methods to end their pregnancies, including drinking battery acid and using wire coat hangers. In parts of rural Kenya, young women have hired local healers to stomp on their stomachs until the pregnancy is deemed over.

“Trump’s policy means even fewer services will be offered,” said Chimaraoke Izugbara, a researcher at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi. “Some women will not be reached, and providers may not be available to offer services. I think we are headed to a major disaster.”

Nearly 8,000 women in Kenya die every year from complications caused by pregnancy and childbirth. At least a fifth of those deaths are caused by self-induced abortions, according to Izugbara.

However, Dutch trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen has a solution:

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And your problem with an innovative way to tell girls they don’t have to put up with violence is…..?

There are few things in life more irritating than the Daily Fail crowing. It is doing just that this morning after International Development Minister Priti Patel announced that funding for what the Fail called the “Ethiopian equivalent of the Spice Girls” was being cut from our international aid budget. In the same way as they pepper words like “bogus” around when talking about asylum seekers, or make it sound like every second person claiming benefits is doing so fraudulently (when the figure is less than 1%), they are trying to make it sound like all the money that we send overseas is being frittered away on frivolity.

What they don’t tell you is that the group Yegna is a brilliant, innovative and creative way of getting an important message about women’s and girls’ rights through to both men and women. It tells girls that they don’t have to put up with being beaten by their parents. It changes minds. Just look at this poster from the Girl Effect, who manage this project.

 

I’d particularly want to draw your attention to the changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours section. Almost all boys who were exposed to Yegna’s work would be moved to report it if they were aware of a girl being forced into marriage compared with just over half who were not. 59% of girls beaten by their parents who had listened to Yegna would agree that it should be reported to the authorities compared with less than a third who had not. 25% more girls who had listened to Yegna realised that it was wrong for men to hit their wives.

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Flood protection or overseas aid? A false choice

Help UK
Over the festive period, I saw the image on the right on a social media site, stating, against a backdrop of flooded housing:

It’s time to STOP sending money abroad and help people in the UK now. LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE if you agree?

A comment under the image mentioned:

…the 250 million we are giving to India to fund their Space Programme.

Oh dear. Where to start? Call me an old pedant, but I’m naturally suspicious of any entreaty which feels the need to include block capitals. But that’s just one of my little foibles.

My mind boggled at the idea that we are giving “250 million” to India to fund their Space Programme. It took just a quick Google to see where that came from. Our old friend the Daily Mail had a remarkably thoroughly, if one-sidedly, researched article on 15th February 2015 which was headlined as follows:

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Liberal Democrats fight for the world’s poorest

Women in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, north Darfur, Sudan - Some rights reserved by DFID - UK Department for International DevelopmentFor many Liberal Democrat members the heavy election defeat was disheartening. However, the party can take strength from their contribution to governing the United Kingdom from 2010-2015.

One such example is the achievement made in the area of overseas aid. What were the achievements? When the Liberal Democrats were in government the UK reached the 0.7% figure of all national income, that should go towards foreign aid, for the first time ever; then enshrined the commitment in law.

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Solution to Calais crisis lies in international development

All the unpleasantness of the last few days’ reaction to the ongoing Calais crisis is perhaps just a taste of the difficult challenge it will be for Liberals to uphold decency in the coming years. In my view, the best way to form a powerfully Liberal stance on this issue is to reinforce to the public that the solution to this crisis, as well as others (Islamic extremism, the environment etc.) lies in a field of policy often neglected by mainstream debate: International Development. But for us to form that policy, we must face some difficult home truths.

Every ideology has an extremist form. Every tool that can construct a better world can be used as a weapon to make a darker, crueller one. In the field of international development, it is time for Liberals like ourselves to recognise that we are not exempt from this fact. It is time for our party to develop a stance on development that differentiates us from the major parties and their blind stance to the free market fundamentalism of the current key institutions, the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation, so that Britain can play its part in reforming them when we return to government.

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Lib Dem MEP supports Fairtrade group in campaign to help sugar farmers after EU rule change

As Co-Ordinator of Lib Dem Fairtrade Future (LDFF) I’m proud to announce that we’ve launched a new campaign, Help Sugar Farmers, in support of a major effort from the Fairtrade Foundation (the governing body of Fairtrade in the UK) to get a fair deal for sugar farmers in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries following a European Union rule-change which-unless mitigation is provided-will likely lead to around 200,000 people being pushed into poverty.

I’m a proud pro-European but we have to be up-front when the EU makes decisions which adversely affect people both within the EU and-as in this case-beyond.

As noted by the Fairtrade Foundation, the EU has decided to do away with a cap on the amount of sugar grown in Europe which has previously helped to protect the livelihoods of sugar farmers (including around 60,000 who are part of the Fairtrade initiative) by enabling them good access to European markets.

LDFF supports the Fairtrade Foundation in calling for the EU to ‘lead a response which brings together businesses, other EU member states, governments in affected Countries, small farmers and civil society’ and to ‘provide new funding from the EU’s own development budget.’

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Martin Horwood writes…Cross-Government International Development in 2015 and beyond

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most unpredictable election campaign in recent memory.  Whilst the UK media, and indeed anyone with an interest in politics, has become an expert in polling data and marginal seats, we shouldn’t forget the real impact that these elections will have on the lives of millions of people around the world.

Anyone who doubts that impact should be reminded of Nigel Farage’s ridiculous attacks on UK aid spending in the leaders’ debate last week, topped off by his heartless comments about access to treatment for people who are HIV positive. Much like Labour’s ‘banker’s bonus tax’, Farage seems determined to use our foreign aid budget to fund every one of UKIP’s policies. While our impulse might be to roll our eyes at the absurdity of it all, we mustn’t forget the real damage that this line of aid-scepticim could do if unleashed on the Department for International Development (DfID) in the next government.

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Martin Horwood MP writes…A Lib Dem vision for fighting infectious diseases

The world is an ever-smaller place.  Advances in transport and telecommunications have bridged enormous geographic divides.  With a click on my phone I can Skype a friend on the other side of the world, or step outside my office and find produce from around the globe for sale in the local supermarket.

Yet, for all the many advantages of globalisation for trade and tourism, there is another side of the coin.  It is not only holidaymakers that travel by air.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.  Last year, it killed an estimated 1.5 million people.  In 1993 the World Health Organisation declared TB a ‘global health emergency’ since then over 40 million people have died from the disease.  It is airborne, infectious, and found in every country in the world.

In the UK, and indeed in much of the developed world, most people think that TB is no longer a threat.  Indeed, rates have fallen dramatically over the last century, and the disease has fallen off the radar.  Yet, any public health professional will tell you that TB is still a problem in many parts of the UK.  London is known as the TB capital of Western Europe.  Birmingham has even higher rates of the disease.  To complete the picture, the BCG, the TB vaccine that many of us received as children, offers negligible protection past the age of 15.

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Justine Greening’s revealing speech on International Development and what it didn’t say

Yesterday the Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DfID), Justine Greening, gave a speech outlining what she considered to be her achievements in government and giving us a hint at what the Conservatives would focus on in a future government.

Greening’s speech was kept very low key.  This is partly because foreign aid is rarely headline news, but also because the Tory hierarchy are at pains to play down DfID’s work under this government, even its very significant achievements. It was only in November that Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond told reporters that he thought the bill brought forward …

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Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…DFID’s approach to LGBT rights

It’s been just over a month since I became our International Development Minister, and I’ve enjoyed every moment since. When she held the role, Lynne Featherstone used to say it was the best job in government and I wholeheartedly agree. Shaping and seeing first-hand how UK aid transforms the lives of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised people is a Lib Dem dream job.

Yesterday I met with Stonewall and the Kaleidoscope Trust to discuss what DFID is doing to address the problems faced by one of the most marginalised groups – LGBT communities in developing countries. Of course I have long drawn on the fantastic Stonewall and Kaleidoscope Trust expertise both for our domestic and international work on equalities, but I was keen to meet them in my new capacity at DFID and learn how we can best work together. Their international work is truly impressive, from educating international development NGOs on LGBT rights and concerns, to engaging global businesses to use their leverage in the fight for equality, to helping to train local campaigners across the world in campaigning and legal techniques.

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Reducing the negative impact of violence on international development

Every five minutes a child dies from violence.

This appalling statistic, released in a new report from Unicef UK today, shows that violence is not confined to an unlucky few or even to war zones. Across the world, millions of children bear the brunt of an epidemic of violence that is often hidden or ignored and that threatens their rights to a healthy, safe and fulfilling life.

Violence manifests itself in many forms. Unicef UK’s research reveals that more than 125 million women, most in early childhood or adolescence, have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). In some regions, the child murder rate is shockingly high, especially for teenagers.  For example, an adolescent boy in Latin America is 70 times more likely to be murdered than in the UK.

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Conference Speeches: Lynne Featherstone: I have been able to do über-Liberal things in Government

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsConference may have been a week or so ago but we still have some keynote speeches to post. Lynne Featherstone spoke about the work she had done to help the most vulnerable people across the world with great humility. She said she had been able to introduce über-liberal policies but was also keen to pay  tribute to Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg for getting the economy on track.

She spoke powerfully about what she’s dong to protect women and girls around the globe and talked with great humility, saying that whenever she meets people in desperate circumstances she’s very aware that that could have been her. “I didn’t choose where I was born” she said. Here is the video and the text is below:

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Michael Moore’s International Development Bill passes its first Commons hurdle

michael-moore-mp-secretary-of-state-for-scotlandMichael Moore’s Private Members’ Bill, which enshrines the 0,7% of GDP target for international aid into law, passed its Second Reading in the Commons today by 164 votes in favour to just 6 against. It will now go forward to be studied in more detail by a Committee. In July he wrote for this site about why he’d chosen this issue.

Speaking during the debate, Moore, who was International Development Spokesman for the Party in the run up to the last General Election, said:

Right now we are in the midst of an almighty debate about our future.

Development is a small but important part of the debate in Scotland. Reaching the UN target is an achievement of the UK as a whole, including Scotland.

As part of the UK, Scotland belongs to a family of nations which are the world’s second largest donors of international aid.

And we are not passive in this process either with 40% of the staff at DFID based in Abercrombie House in East Kilbride.

Together, with the rest of the UK, our money goes further and our impact is stronger.

Scots who want their country to be a force for compassion and relief should reflect on what we have achieved today.

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Michael Moore MP writes…Securing the UK’s commitment to international development

Lynne Featherstone in UgandaI am pretty sure I have taken every chance available to enter the ballot for a Private Member’s Bill since being elected to the House of Commons in 1997.

What is certain is that I have never succeeded in securing one of the highly coveted slots that give backbench MPs a chance to pilot legislation through Parliament – until now, that is.

In the old days I am sure that those lucky enough to emerge in the “top 20” of the ballot would have learned of their good fortune by letter or maybe even messenger. By contrast, I became aware of securing the second slot by text messages and a sudden spate of social media ‘notifications’. The letter duly followed.

In the weeks since, I have had many enquiries asking which issue I would choose and have had just as many (mostly) helpful suggestions – my thanks to all who took the trouble.

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Lynne Featherstone on the need for clean cookstoves to transform the lives of women and girls

Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan tells Secretary Clinton more about the clean cookstoves effort in South India.Earlier this week we told you of Paddy Ashdown’s visit to Bangladesh to raise awareness of the need for clean stoves. This is also an area where Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone has been working and on Thursday, she spoke at a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves conference in London. This issue is important because the World Health Organisation estimates that 4.3 million people lost their lives through being exposed to household air …

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Martin Horwood writes … an important day for disability and international development

A Remarkable Young ManSelect committee reports are often considered to be rather dry, even to the most politically active among us, which is why I feel particularly compelled to highlight the 11th report of the International Development CommitteeDisability and development.

The select committee decided to hold this inquiry because they had been told repeatedly by organisations like Sightsavers that our country’s aid system was not delivering for disabled people overseas. Lynne Featherstone also paid attention to these organisations and started championing the rights of disabled people in her first year as a minister, describing disability as the great neglected subject in international development.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone: More action needed on reproductive rights for all

Lynne FeatherstoneThis week, International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone is attending the UN Commission on Population and Development. She has written for the Huffington Post about how crucial it is to make sure that women have the choice about when to have children by having access to contraception, potentially saving 800 lives every day:

Globally there are 222million women who wish to space or delay the timing of births, but do not have access to modern forms of contraception. This has real and devastating consequences on their lives. In 2010, 800 women a day died from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth and in 2008 an estimated 8.7million young women aged 15 to 24 in developing countries resorted to unsafe abortions. All of this was preventable.

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone in New York for the Commission on the Status of Women

New york police  Some rights reserved by Amiga-Commodore Development Minister Lynne Featherstone spent two days in New York earlier this week at the United Nation’s annual Commission on the Status of Women. She posted a series of blogs from the Big Apple. Here are some highlights.

Day One:

I’ll be attending a whole load of events as well as talking to my counterparts from around the world to ensure the CSW negotiations lead to a

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Meet Malcolm Bruce: Part 2: International Development and those Euro elections

malcolm-bruce-2After his surprise election as Deputy Leader last week, I caught up with Malcolm Bruce, someone who is well known to us in Scotland but not so much to the rest of the party. The first part of the interview, where talks about Liberal Democrat achievements in government, what he can bring to the Deputy Leader role and on Scottish independence, was published last week.

Malcolm has been Chair of the Commons Select Committee on International Development since 2005. After years of economic portfolios, including Trade and Industry, the Treasury itself …

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Putting people with disabilities into the international development picture

One year after her appointment as the first ever Liberal Democrat minister at the Department for International Development (DfID), Lynne Featherstone has already earned a reputation for picking up difficult subjects and setting ambitious goals. In her first year, she put the issue of female genital mutilation on the national and international agenda and famously declared that she wanted to see it gone within a generation and then started to take the practical steps to make that happen.

Now Lynne has taken up another challenge for some of the world’s most vulnerable people: to champion the inclusion of people with disabilities. …

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LibLink… Lynne Featherstone: UK will help tackle the Great Neglect of disability

Lynne Featherstone, in New York for the UN General Assembly, has written for the Huffington Post about what the UK is doing to help those with disabilities in developing countries.

First she outlined why this is necessary:

More than one billion people worldwide live with disability and suffer huge discrimination as a result. They face unequal access to education, employment, healthcare, social support and the justice system. Consequently, they are disproportionately some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world – part of an unseen great neglect.

The internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have done a great deal to address

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Michael Moore MP writes…Scotland has a role in overseas aid

photoAmidst the fever of the independence referendum debate in Scotland on issues such as currency, financial services and pensions, Lynne Featherstone and I took part in a series of engagements in Glasgow recently which reinforced with me what would be lost in terms of international development if Scotland voted to leave the Union.
 
As a former International Development spokesperson for the Party I am still passionate about this issue. I’m proud that the issues we as Lib Dems have long campaigned for have become a reality

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LibLink…Lynne Featherstone: The disabled people hidden from view

Liberal Democrat international development minister Lynne Featherstone has written an article in the Sunday Times about the plight of disabled people in developing countries, and how they often don’t receive much needed aid.

But for every medal-winning athlete, there are millions more in the developing world who are treated as sub-human, hidden from view and forgotten. Millions of women who are raped and beaten because they are discriminated against or physically incapable of escaping their attackers. Millions of children denied an education because they can’t see their textbooks, hear their teachers or get to school. And millions of people locked out

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LibLink…Lynne Featherstone writes on World Malaria Day

Over at the Huffington Post, Lib Dem international development minister Lynne Featherstone has been talking about the importance of World Malaria Day.

Here’s an excerpt:

Malaria affects over half the world’s population, with a child dying every minute from the disease. In the worst-affected countries malaria has a devastating impact on health systems and economies. When faced with these stark facts it can often seem like there’s no hope.

But amongst the gloom there are genuine signs that we may finally be winning the battle against malaria. Across the world malaria is on the decline. Over the past decade governments, NGOs and multilaterals

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone working to transform the lives of women and girls around the world

Lynne Featherstone, Minister for International Development, writes at the Huffington Post, on the opportunities 2013 brings to transform the lives of women and girls around the world.

This year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a lasting difference to the lives of women and girls everywhere in the world.

Between the Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York in March, the work on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals and the UK Presidency of the G8, the international community

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Government shifts to back full range of medical care for rape victims in armed conflict

Lindsay NorthoverWelcome news from the House of Lords last week, where Lib Dem peer and government spokesperson for International Development, Lindsay Northover, for the first time said the British government believes that girls and women raped in armed conflict are protected under international humanitarian law, even when domestic law in the country in question says something else.

What that means in practice is that the UK government is willing to fund the full range of medical care for the victims, including abortion where medically necessary – even if domestic law in that country …

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Opinion: 2013 – Time to think afresh about International Development?

Lynne Featherstone in Zambia. Photo:  some rights reserved by DFID http://www.flickr.com/photos/dfid/8220719712/Another year, another set of attacks on development aid in the right-wing press. Prompted by a spectacularly ill-informed paper from Civitas, the Telegraph, Mail and Spectator tried once again to argue, without evidence, that high proportions of British aid are wasted.

The truth is that, under the Coalition, far more attention has been paid to value for money in aid spending than ever before. What is more, there’s little need to speculate about where

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