I had dinner a couple of weeks ago with a political scientist – we were discussing my plans for the summer which include going on Project Umubano, the Conservatives’ Social Action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Despite his wide and deep knowledge of British politics, he had no idea that this exists. He vaguely remembered that in 2007, there were mutterings over whether or not David Cameron should have left the country during our floods. But that was all. He was taken aback that Conservatives don’t talk more about this, and about our commitment to effective development aid overall.
The 0.7 per cent target was passed in a Resolution at the October 1970 UN General Assembly. Over 40 years ago. And by a Conservative government. The aim was for the target to be achieved by the mid 1970s. It does not include humanitarian (effectively, emergency) aid, but is intended to support the economic, environmental, social and political development of developing countries.
Conservatives tend to think that rules are there to be obeyed. So that’s one pretty good reason to abide by our agreement. But even more than that, poor countries being helped to become more developed is a good thing.
It is good morally – how can anyone say “it’s not worth saving and improving lives”?
And it is good pragmatically – the more these countries develop into success stories, the more we can trade with them, and the more stable they are. Which is good news for the people who live there, it’s good news for the surrounding countries, and it’s good news for us.
I do not understand why so many people refuse to acknowledge the benefits of well-spent aid. Yes there are instances of badly-spent aid, and corruption can be a problem. But today’s announcement of more transparency in aid spending will work towards making our aid more effective than ever – which can only benefit the recipient nations, the recipient citizens, and us.