Amref Health Africa UK welcomes the Prime Minister's commitment to international development aid while challenging the shift to using aid to serve UK interests.
Speaking in Cape Town this week at the start of a three-country tour, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the UK would continue to commit 0.7% of its gross national income to international aid*. Amref Health Africa UK welcomes Mrs May's renewal of the 0.7% commitment and her acknowledgement that there is no shortage of evidence that aid works. However, we share concerns expressed across the international development sector regarding the Prime Minister's insistence that the UK’s aid programme should serve its national interest.
Yes, investment in development should be driven by a concern for effectiveness and accountability. But it is the needs of the world's poorest people, not UK self-interest, that should determine where and how the UK's overseas aid budget is spent.
Amref Health Africa UK CEO Frances Longley commented, "Working to improve the lives of the world's poorest people has been at the heart of the UK's international development policy for many years and Amref Health Africa UK believes that it should remain there. Evidence shows that the most successful development is collaborative and equitable, with the voices and needs of the world's poorest people firmly at its core. We must not jeopardise the great capacity of the UK's overseas aid policy to tackle poverty, by putting our national interests above those of the people that policy exists to serve."
The Prime Minister rightly said that “the challenges facing Africa are not Africa’s alone." We share her conviction that "a more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests", but for this to benefit the poorest and most marginalised people it must be done on fairer terms, respecting the needs of African economies and workers as much as our own. Like our colleagues at Bond
, we believe that trade and investment are vital: but they must be bolstered by development programmes that tackle the root causes of poverty, strengthen health systems, and facilitate sustainable change.
We must look to Africa and African people to take the lead on addressing these challenges. Extreme poverty and inequality in Africa will only be eradicated if African voices and needs are at the heart of the process. At Amref Health Africa, we support home-grown, African solutions enabling African communities to secure their right to health, an essential step in breaking the cycle of poverty. In her speech, the Prime Minister recognised the positive change that is taking place across the continent, and paid tribute to the young people who are driving this change. In our work, we see evidence of this every day.
That's why Amref Health Africa will keep working - in partnership with the private sector, civil society, and regional and national governments - until everyone can access their human right to health.
Image (c) Jeroen van Loon, taken in Amuru, Northern Uganda, 2017
* In 1970, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution committing its members to allocating 0.7% of their gross national income to international development aid. The UK was the first country to meet the target (in 2013) and remains one of only seven countries to have done so.