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Funding Dilemma for Aussie Aid Agencies

16 July 2015 at 11:40 am
Xavier Smerdon
Australian humanitarian aid organisations affected by Government cutbacks are being forced to appeal to other foreign donor countries to carry on aid projects in Africa.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 July 2015 at 11:40 am


Funding Dilemma for Aussie Aid Agencies
16 July 2015 at 11:40 am

Australian humanitarian aid organisations affected by Government cutbacks are being forced to appeal to other foreign donor countries to carry on aid projects in Africa.

A major United Nations summit on financing international development and aid in Africa this week is shining a harsh light on Australia’s “savage” cuts to that continent, according to aid agency, Plan International Australia.

The UN is hosting heads of state, finance ministers and development ministers from across the world at the third international Financing For Development conference in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Australian aid agencies, Plan International Australia, Care International and Oxfam representatives are also attending the conference.

Plan International Australia said the conference comes at a time of unprecedented aid cuts which has seen the NGO cast around to see if other donor countries can pick up the shortfall after funding for a six year program was cut after just three years.

“A great example is right on the doorstep of this conference for any Australian official participating to see: Plan is being forced to end one of our projects in Addis Ababa that has had a powerful positive impact on many, many children’s lives,” Director of International Programs for Plan International Australia, Dave Husy said.

“This project is our Community Led Action for Children project, which works to improve the health, development, learning and protection of young children through a low cost and high-quality early learning program.  

“This project includes a mobile library carted into remote areas by donkey to give poor children access to books and to help them learn to read for the first time. This project is to close as a direct result of budget cuts to Australian aid.

Husy said his organisation had reached 1,572 children in the past year, and were due to reach more than 4,000 in the next two years.

“It’s likely that we will reach none of those. So it’s clear to see how aid cuts hurting vulnerable people in genuine need.” he said.

“The Abbott Government has slashed the aid budget by $11 billion in the past year – 20 per cent has been torn from Australian aid in this financial year alone.

“Nowhere have those cuts been felt more painfully than in Sub-Saharan Africa which, despite being home to some of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, has borne the brunt of government cuts in aid. In the last Budget, the Government cut aid to Africa by a staggering 70 per cent.

“Africa is home to at least 18 of the poorest countries in the world, so it is clear that the continent should be a focus of our aid budget. After all, developing poor nations is the whole point of Australian aid.

“But this Government is demanding that some of the world’s most vulnerable people carry the biggest burden of these cruel and unjustified cuts in Australian aid. This week’s conference in Addis Ababa just serves to highlight what a misguided and unfair move this is.”

A spokesperson for Plan told Pro Bono Australia News that so far the NGO had not had any success in finding other countries to pick up the funding shortfall for its African projects.

The UN gathering has been discussing ways to achieve sustainable development goals, including ending poverty and achieving food security worldwide by 2030.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will not be part of Australia's delegation, but Labor's Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek is attending the conference in an unofficial capacity.

The Conference on Financing for Development has heard calls to ensure the necessary resources are provided to improve people’s lives while protecting the planet.

“You have recognized that in a world in which both the global population and resource constraints are growing, development finance needs a reboot,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the opening in Addis Ababa.

“But without resources, commitments will amount to little more than promises on paper.

“We need concrete deliverables, actions, policies and measures which will result into increased mobilization of resources from all sources, and ensure their effective use, to support the implementation of the universal post-2015 development agenda.”

He cited six areas that are crucial: generating increased domestic resources; international public finance; the need for countries to access long-term financing for infrastructure at concessional or affordable rates; finding ways of increasing the private sector’s participation and contribution to the implementation of the new agenda; addressing the enabling domestic and international environment for development; and effective follow-up to track progress.

“Through a renewed global partnership, solidarity and collective action, we can and will mobilize the resources to achieve a prosperous and sustainable future for all.”

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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