Tag Archives: international development

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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Fighting for the rights of women – all over the world

This week, The Independent has run an interview with International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone – and no surprise that equalities feature strongly in her approach to the job:

Today we are talking about Zambia, from where she has just returned from a trip to meet victims of domestic violence, as well as the First Lady and the newly-appointed Minister of Gender, as part of her brief as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for International Development (DFID).

In Masabuka, Featherstone discussed ways to empower a population where 63 per cent of women believe domestic battery is justifiable. “It’s a culture that is so

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone in Zambia, part 2

Lib Dem international development minister Lynne Featherstone is currently on a trip to the southern African country of Zambia. Her first visit was to the capital, Lusaka, and to a UK-funded empowerment programme for adolescent girls.

Over to Lynne:

This programme is supporting more than 1,500 of the most vulnerable girls, providing safe spaces and mentoring to help build their confidence and life skills.

The girls I met told me they were learning about their rights as women. One 16 year old girl said she now felt more confident to say no to unwanted approaches from boys. Another said the girls now

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone on ending violence against women and girls in Zambia

International Development minister Lynne Featherstone is currently visiting Zambia and blogging her trip for the Huffington Post. In her first post she writes:

My first visit since arriving in Zambia was to a UK aid adolescent girls empowerment programme in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the capital, Lusaka. This initiative is supporting more than 1,500 of the most vulnerable girls, providing safe spaces and mentoring to help build their confidence and life skills.

The girls I met told

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Featherstone: 0.7% aid target will stick

Interviewed by The Independent, new International Development minister Lynne Featherstone stood by the target of giving 0.7% of GDP in international aid, and moreover setting that target in law:

Featherstone is adamant that the 0.7 per cent figure will be enshrined in law “as soon as we can get a legislative slot” and that Greening is “absolutely committed to it”.

Having been shuffled out of an equalities role in the UK, she will instead by taking up many equalities issues internationally in her new department:

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Why is the UK government encouraging companies to use tax havens?

Plans by the government to change Controlled Foreign Companies (CFC) rules are threatening to deny the developing world billions of pounds in tax revenues. The current CFC rules discourage UK companies from using tax havens, by requiring them to pay UK levels of corporation tax whether they are based in the UK or abroad. This system discourages the practice of profit shifting and protects the tax incomes of both the UK and developing countries.

The changes were proposed in the Budget earlier this …

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Adrian Sanders writes… What progress has been made towards achieving full primary education for all children?

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were created by the world’s richest nations and institutions to tackle the major problems facing the developing world. The second goal states that by 2015 all children should be able to complete primary school. This was an ambitious goal as primary enrolment rates in 1999 were under 60% in some countries.

Current primary school enrolment stands at 90%, however progress varies over the developing world. The enrolment rates of wealthier regions like Latin America have remained roughly the same over the last decade staying around 95%, but poorer regions have seen much larger improvement since the …

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Liblink: Nick Clegg – Rio’s reprise must set hard deadlines for development

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has written for the Guardian about the Rio+20 summit he’s attending. He says that it’s vital that we “revive the spirit of our predecessors to get the world on a much more sustainable path”.

He spelled out the consequences if we don’t act:

Too many people still lack food: tonight, one billion will go hungry. There isn’t enough clean energy: right now women in some of the poorest communities are fuelling their homes with tyres and plastics. Despite the noxious fumes produced, they rely on anything that will burn. Dirty water and poor

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Opinion: Why the UK should keep its promises on international aid

The best use of aid for International Development has been a controversial topic recently, with rows over the need for aid to India spilling onto the front pages – many of them spectacularly ill-informed on both sides. That issue is complex – but at least you can rely on Liberal Democrats to think about it carefully. In 2010, I chaired a policy working group on international Development, which argued that the UK should focus on supporting good governance, sovereignty and accountability to the poor, so that countries could move away from aid dependency. As India has all of those, we argued that aid to India could stop now. However, with more people living below the poverty line in India than the whole of Africa, the counter-argument is also strong. In the end an amendment from House of Commons International Development Select Committee Chair Malcolm Bruce, calling for aid to continue for now, was supported by conference.

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The Independent View: Budget corporate tax changes could cost developing countries billions

Ahead of the most important austerity budget in a generation, the government plans to open up a huge new tax loophole that will cost ordinary people around the world billions warns ActionAid in a new report ‘Collateral Damage’

The international development charity has revealed that this loophole will allow UK based multinationals to avoid an estimated £4 billion worth of taxes in developing countries and will also cost the UK Treasury £1 billion.

Until now, the UK’s anti-tax haven rules have provided a deterrent to companies seeking to avoid paying taxes in Britain and poor countries alike. The proposed changes …

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A postcard from… Abuja

A week away from Westminster offers our Parliamentarians an opportunity to travel. And whilst Ros Scott went north, as we’ll see later today, Mark Williams headed towards the warmth of West Africa. He sent us this…

If ever there was a justification for our coalition government’s commitment on overseas aid, it was laid bare for me on a half-term trip to Nigeria as part of the All-Party Group on Global Education working with the charity ActionAid International. I will never forget the village school in Abuja with 700 children with absolutely no water supply, no toilet provision, no drinking water, but …

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The Independent View: Feeding cars or people? The case for food sovereignty

Zero-carbon energy from plants might sound like a good idea. But that’s not the view of Luis Muchanga, a peasant leader from Mozambique, who spoke at a seminar on the global food crisis in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Mozambique, Luis pointed out, ought to be well placed to feed its people, with 70% of the population living in rural areas and practising subsistence agriculture. In reality though, around 35% of families go hungry, as the government prioritises export agriculture. And an increasing proportion of this export production is devoted to feeding the appetite of the rich world’s cars and …

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The Independent View: Sorry ActionAid – it’s time to put people in charge of their own development

This is a response article to ‘The Independent View: Centre Forum is wrong about aid – UK aid makes a difference’ by Centre Forum’s Pauline Dixon and Paul Marshall

Failure to allocate international aid more effectively on a rising budget will lead to a rapid decline in public support for it. This is what the CentreForum paper ‘International aid and educating the poorest’ seeks to address, and this is why ActionAid’s concerns about our paper, set out last week on Lib Dem Voice, are misplaced.

We are not opposed to international aid (ActionAid comes close to implying we are). Nor do we oppose …

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The Independent View: Where is the promised aid money being spent?

In the run up to the 2011 G8 summit in Deauville, France, this May, international humanitarian organisation Concern Worldwide is pushing for commitment and clarity on the agricultural aid promises pledged by G8 members  in the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila.

Back then, the British Government alongside the other G8 countries committed $22 billion in aid to be distributed over three years as part of the L’Aquila Global Food Security Initiative. The British commitment in particular was for £1.1 billion. These numbers may appear substantial, however they pale in comparison to the $30 billion per year that the UN Food …

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Government takes action over ‘vulture funds’

When Labour were in power, Liberal Democrats regularly attacked the government for its inaction over so-called vulture funds (that is, in this context, financial funds who buy up debt from poor countries and try to make a profit out of it). For example, then International Development spokesperson Lynne Featherstone said,

Gordon Brown has said this is immoral but so far it’s been all talk and no action.

The Government needs to take a stand and use its influence in the IMF to help devise an internationally binding system to ensure companies can’t prey on heavily indebted developing countries in this way.

The

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Government gives £16m to help with Ivory Coast refugee crisis

Some good news from the government on the unfolding international crisis that almost no-one in Britain is interested in, namely the Ivory Coast. The Department for International Development (DfiD) is giving £16m in emergency aid to help deal with the large numbers of people fleeing the violence.

Many of them are crossing the border to Liberia, a country itself struggling to recover from its own violence. As The Guardian reported,

Last week the UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres,visited Liberia and warned that the influx of refugees threatened the country’s eight years of peace, following a civil war that left

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Opinion: International Development and the Coalition – so far, so good

With the 10 year Millennium Development Goal Review Summit having taken place this week, now is a good time to take stock of the Coalition Government’s International Development policy so far.

The Coalition Government promised, in their “Programme for Government”, to commit to the internationally agreed goal of 0.7% of Gross National Income spent on aid by 2013 as well as supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and prioritising “aid spending on programmes to ensure that everyone has access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education; to reduce maternal and infant mortality.”

As Joint Chair of the All-Party …

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Opinion: radical approach needed on International Development

International Development must surely be a Ministry which any aspiring cabinet member would view positively.

A Department where there are plenty of opportunities for easy publicity and there is money to be disbursed, with fewer of the potential banana skins of the other departments.

But the announcement that the coalition are to ‘ring fence’ spending on this department should not prevent Liberals from questioning the current minister, Andrew Mitchell, and the orthodoxy concerning how the budget is spent.

One thing which unites Lib Dems of all stripes is a commitment to decentralisation, yet the framework for distributing the International Development budget is skewed …

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The coalition agreement: international development

Welcome to the twelfth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

International development has been one of the totemic policy areas which David Cameron chose to show how he was changing the party. As a result, just as a promise to increase spending on the NHS was used to argue that the party was changing in its attitude to public services, so too a commitment to increase spending on international aid was used to argue that the party was leaving behind its ‘nasty party’ roots.

Whatever …

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Michael Moore live online at the Guardian at 11am

Over at The Guardian website, Michael Moore, Lib Dem spokesman on international development, will be live online and answering readers’ questions about aid and development from 11am today, Tuesday. Here’s how it’s being trailed:

Last year, the Liberal Democrats set out their thoughts on international development in a policy paper, which outlined support for the aid target of 0.7% of GDP, a call for renewed efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals and an acknowledgement that aid sometimes fails and that perhaps financial aid is not the most effective way of delivering support.

At 11am (GMT) on Tuesday, 16 March, the Lib

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The Independent View: International development beyond aid – an opportunity to change the political debate

Sarah Mulley is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).  Before joining ippr, she was coordinator of the UK Aid Network.

A major shift in political attitudes to international development has occurred in the UK during the last decade. There is now strong cross-party commitment to meeting the UN target to give 0.7% of GDP as aid, and DFID’s place in government as an independent department now seems secure.

But the cross-party commitment to aid, and to DFID, is not as clear cut as it might first seem.

First, the question of what counts as aid is crucial.  …

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The Independent View: Poverty can and must be made history

Ten million people bought Make Poverty History campaign armbands in 2005. Some would hold that voters give development issues a low priority. But those armbands showed that a lot of voters care.

More and better aid, debt relief and trade justice were the demands of campaigners. Five years later, how is the government doing? Brilliantly if you fall for Labour’s spin. Mediocre if you analyse the facts.

An OECD report says that Britain is expected to devote 0.56% of national income to development aid this year. That hides a few things. The government arrives at this figure by including …

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Opinion: The Wisdom of Clare Short

Clare Short, in her book, An Honourable Deception?, talks about religious fanaticism. She makes the point that the Iraqi body count website calculates that between the 9/11 bombings and February 2004, there were roughly 3,500 deaths resulting from Islamic extremist attacks on Western targets. In comparison she points out that over 13,000 non-combatant civilians died as a result of the Iraq war, as well as another 3,000 in Afghanistan, and 3,000 Palestinian civilians.

Looking at these figures – and acknowledging that many more Muslims have died in violence in the Balkans, Pakistan, Chechnya – it is easy to see why young Muslims living in these countries have a view of the world that includes a sense that the world values their lives much less than those of, say, me, a typical western male…

Obviously any member of a western government would shout me down were I to make such a claim to their face. Any Western liberal democracy places the utmost value on human life, regardless of race, religion or gender. At least, so any Bill of Rights you care to read would tell you.

But that’s just the point. It’s easy to legislate for a concept, but to live up to that all the time is not easy.

We shouldn’t shy away from the fact that any democratically elected government that values its prospects for re-election jealously protects the lives and interests of its citizens. Couple this very understandable bias with the fact that none of the most powerful and influential governments in the world are Islamic nations and you get the situation that, in any multinational forum – be it the G8 or the UN – it is the interests of the richer, western liberal democracies that are put to the fore not those of the Islamic world.

Look at the Darfur genocide. Were that happening in the UK there would be an overwhelming response, not only to protect those being oppressed, but to bring the oppressors to justice. It is not outside our power to take such actions when these events occur -even in the Sudan, but our governments choose to take less action because there is no reason to take any action other than a moral obligation.

It is this narrow self-interest that is the major driving force behind every country’s foreign policy. However, it is arguably at the root of most of the problems in the world. The fact is that the ‘war on terror’ has killed far more Muslims than it has anyone else. I say that we should forgive the Muslims of the world for thinking that the world doesn’t care about them. Fair point, really. This view is borne out of a dispassionate examination of the facts over the last couple of hundred years.

It is this feeling of impotence in the face of an unjust world that is at least partly driving young Muslims into the arms of extremist recruiters. If we are to overcome these problems, we could do worse than learn lessons from the UK’s attempts over the years to resolve the sectarian problems in Northern Ireland.

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[email protected]: Michael Moore – Stop these broken promises

Over at the New Statesman, Michael Moore, the Lib Dems’ shadow international development secretary, argues that the G20 summit offers a key opportunity to revitalise the international community’s commitment to development at this difficult economic time. Here’s an excerpt:

The Liberal Democrats believe that the G20 summit offers a key opportunity to revitalise the international community’s commitment to development at this difficult economic time. In an interconnected world tackling the impacts of the crisis on the developing world is not just a moral imperative, but in our own self-interest.

If we do nothing it will not be long before humanitarian crises,

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Opinion: Development in a downturn

Writing in the Guardian, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has added his support to the growing chorus of voices demanding that the needs of the world’s poorest to be placed at the heart of international efforts to stabilise and boost the global economy. With unemployment and financial hardship at home making the headlines, we cannot and must not overlook the potentially enormous problems facing the developing world as a consequence of a situation for which they are entirely blameless.

Last week the G20 finance ministers met in Sussex to set the agenda for the forthcoming London Summit. Although it was encouraging to note that the communiqué that emerged from this meeting clearly indicated recognition of the need to support the developing world at this time of crisis, the extent to which these sentiments will be carried forward to the leader’s summit and reflected in significant new financial or institutional commitments remains unclear.

The G20 summit cannot achieve its aims without putting into place a comprehensive framework of support for vulnerable nations. Declining levels of Foreign Direct Investment, shrinking remittance flows and low commodity prices will all have a disproportionate impact on the lives of people within the developing world, with the World Bank estimating that the economic slowdown could keep an additional 53 million people in poverty in 2009. The complex and urgent nature of the task at hand should be reflected in the solutions offered by the G20; short term entitlement protection must be accompanied by more substantive reforms if the London summit is to successfully set the scene for an economic recovery and longer-term stability.

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