Australia One of the Least Generous Countries - Report
9 July 2015 at 12:24 pm
Australia is at risk of becoming the least generous it has ever been in terms of foreign aid, according to a report by one of the world’s largest Not for Profits.
The ONE Campaign, co-founded by singer Bono, has called on Australia to reverse the decline in the share of its aid that goes to the world’s poorest countries.
In the lead up to the Third International Conference on Finance for Development (FfD) being held in Addis Ababa next week, The ONE Campaign released a new analysis that reveals the poorest nations and the poorest people are being hardest hit by cuts to the Australian aid budget.
ONE’s Australia profile found that less than a quarter of Australian aid reaches the poorest countries in the world.
It found that over the past year, Australia has cut its aid to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) by more than 20 per cent, or over $200 million dollars – more than the decrease to the total aid program. LDCs in the Indo-Pacific region which have suffered cuts include Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
This reduction means the share of Australian aid going to LDCs is among the lowest in the developed world, alongside Greece, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic, according to the analysis.
“Australia is one of the few donors whose aid to LDCs has been reduced more than decreases to the total aid program,” ONE’s Global Policy Director, Eloise Todd said.
“In a declining aid environment, the poorest of the poor are bearing the greatest burden of cuts.
“So far, the Abbott Government has been historic for all the wrong reasons, overseeing cuts to the aid budget that have set Australia down the path to being the least generous it’s ever been in terms of aid.”
The latest Federal Budget delivered $1 billion in cuts to Australia’s foreign aid, a move that was heavily criticised by the Not for Profit sector.
Todd said ONE was calling on the Abbott Government to refocus its aid program to ensure that aid reaches those who need it most, by committing to investing at least 50 per cent of its aid spending in LDCs by 2020.
The Not for Profit also called for the reversal of recent cuts to Australia’s overall aid program and for the Government to set an ambitious timetable for reaching the international target of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid.
“2015 could be a game changer for the world’s most vulnerable people, but decisions taken in Addis Ababa will determine whether the opportunity is seized or squandered,” Todd said.
“We won’t see an end to extreme poverty unless countries like Australia shift focus to the poorest countries and the poorest people.”
The key findings of ONE’s Australian profile include:
Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of Australia’s aid program is directed towards the poorest nations. Other countries such as the UK, Canada, Japan, the USA and New Zealand all direct between 30 and 40 per cent of their aid funding to LDCs in an attempt to end extreme poverty
Australia’s current aid budget represents only 0.27 per cent of Australia’s Gross National Income (GNI), well below the international target of 0.7 per cent of GNI, and its current budget for LDCs represents only 0.06 per cent of GNI
Australian aid funding for programs directly targeting women and girls in particular has also decreased
Political leaders and decision makers from around the world will agree on international commitments to support the fight against extreme poverty over the next fifteen years at the FfD conference.
The full ONE Campaign report can be found here.