Cameron’s announcement today that some of the aid budget should be diverted to peace-keeping should come as no surprise. After the multi-lateral aid review was completed two years ago, the direction was written on the wall, as the World Development Movement pointed out at the time.
DFID cut aid spending to aid agencies that support agricultural development in favour of emergency relief, and reduced anti-poverty programmes in some of the poorest countries, like Niger, Angola or Cambodia in favour of countries deemed to be a high security risk.
This is short-term thinking at its worst. The best way to combat insecurity and encourage peace is to spend money on health, education and ensuring greater equity for the world’s poorest. Economic insecurity is exactly what puts countries at risk over the longer-term. If we divert aid spending away, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.
Cameron’s spurious direction points out why the target of 0.7 per cent being spent on aid is irrelevant if we’re not keeping watch on how aid is being spent in the first place. While the target is important in maintaining our commitment for greater wealth equity throughout the world, what clearly matters more is where the money is going.
Like the World Development Movement’s fight to ensure public provision of basic services are maintained versus the privatisation of aid, the securitisation of aid is just another worrying sign that the 0.7 per cent commitment by the coalition is little more than hot air.