Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD has announced that Ireland will not keep its commitment to meet the UN target on overseas aid. This has caused much anxiety throughout the charity sector and Dóchas, the umbrella body for Irish aid agencies, has called on the government not to abandon the world’s poorest people. As the Government has reneged on its promise to meet the UN target of 0.7% GDP on overseas aid in 2015, we would urge the resetting of targets but keep the end goal in mind in planning the post-2015 agenda, minimising the impact on children that are the beneficiaries of our Irish Aid supported programmes.
The Government has reacted to the continued deterioration in the economy with measures that have been taken to ensure the stabilisation of the public finances. Our Chairman Mr Brendan Kenny had duly noted in our 2013 annual report “while we appreciate the necessity for such measures, we greatly regret that the overseas aid budget was so strongly impacted over the past number of years (34.6% cut since 2008) but my Board and I look forward to the government meeting its commitment to reach the UN target of 0.7% of GNI at an early date”.
Ireland’s overseas aid programme is rated among the best in the world in terms of efficiency and overall quality and is subject to stringent administration procedures. Irish NGOs have clear criteria for effective aid – it must be carefully targeted, and based on the real needs of the people and communities it aims to serve. It must be focused on helping people in developing nations to achieve long-term self-sufficiency, and based on the principles of human rights.
ChildFund Ireland utilises Ireland’s aid assistance to support communities in a targeted and sustainable manner, based on needs identified locally and articulated by the community members themselves. In three countries, Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique, we are directly responsible for a 4-year Irish Aid-funded programme focussing on early childhood development in very disadvantaged and impoverished areas. We are dedicated to supporting vulnerable children impacted by war, natural disasters, poverty and global health issues such as HIV and AIDS. We help families to provide nurturing and protective home environments, and assist community leaders to create lasting and meaningful change in their localities. Grant assistance is vital to the on-going success of our work.
In a letter to Minister Costello dated 4th March 2014, our CEO Michael Kiely expressed some concern that Ireland will fall short of meeting the 0.7% target by 2015 and encouraged the Government “not to lose sight of this as an aim in itself, and to set a date to achieve it. ChildFund Ireland recognises and applauds our government’s on-going interest in the rights of children and believes that we need to take every opportunity available in this period of planning for Post-2015 to advance this issue”. Ireland’s overseas aid has been cut by almost €300 million since 2008 yet opinion polls show that Irish people still believe that we have an obligation to invest in overseas aid, and help poor areas of the world to develop the tools they need to provide for themselves.