14 May, 2011

international development assistance

I have been trolling through the 2011-12 budget looking for some good news for the environment.

I posted some thoughts here on the state of the environment budget.

Yesterday, I had the honour of hearing the Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, bang on about the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Budget

I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with my growing readership. (I think there are nine of you now).

One of the first points that @KRuddMP made yesterday was that: "The power that lies in your hands"

Apparently NGO's lobbying the Torries on maintaining the Aid . was actually successful. It is alleged that this week Tony Abbott dropped a policy statement from his Budget reply speech that linked spending on Aid with budget deficits. This followed an orchestrated campaign by international development NGOs to lobby the opposition members of Parliament.

The next piece of good news is that 82% of Australians support the Aid programme. @KRuddMP alleges that: our (Australia's) natural sense of compassion does not stop at the Continental shelf

It is a sad fact of Australian political life that has to justify the education expenditure in Indonesia on the basis of self interest, just as John Howard did previously. Spending money in the right places for all the wrong reasons.....

discussed & influencing participation in schools. He did not mention the impact that (or lack there of) have on the participation rates of girls once they start to menstruate.

talked briefly about maternal health for women & children without the passion of his lovely wife: Therese_Rein (who spoke recently at an International Midwifery Day event at the Bronco's Leagues Club).

It is another sad fact of Australian political life that discussed the water, sanitation & hygiene () budget, without the passion of Bob McMullan. I suspect the spending on has been cut in real terms with more money allocated but over a longer period of time. Bob McMullan, the former Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance (& former minister in previous Labor Governments) retired at the last election. Bob was not afraid to get his photo taken with a toilet. He was a great advocate for toilets. I miss him dearly.

has a different agenda & a different set of priorities. Australia has ramped up it spending in Africa. The relative amounts being spent in Africa are quite small in the global economic sense & quite insignificant in terms of the problems that need to be addressed.

However, I fear that Australia's engagement in Africa comes at the expense of programmes that were running in Asia Pacific. I fear that AusAid & its partners lack the experience & expertise to be effective in the African context. I have even heard stories of Australian Aid causing more harm than good, when the only Water Resource Officer for a region, is pulled out of his community to participate in Australian sponsored training.

I fear that Australia's engagement in International Development Assistance in Africa has more to do with Australia's ambitions for representation in the United Nations, than anything else.

It is great to see Australia ramp up its funding for tackling easily preventable blindness. It is a shame to see funding for tackling easily preventable diseases through sanitation & hygiene has been cut back (in real terms) & spread a lot thinner.

It is great to hear a focus on eliminating violence against women & acknowledgement of Australia's own issues at home.

wrapped up his discourse with a plug for volunteering & the new Australian Civilian Corps

In question time, @KRuddMP applauded a better relationship between AusAid & NGO's. in response to a question about exorbitant salaries @KRuddMP indicated that salaries & fees to technical specialists have been reduced from ~44% to ~22% of the AusAid budget.

Whilst I see a need for Aid (particularly following disasters & war) & International Development Assistance, I see a future for social enterprise & micro-finance to play a greater role in poverty alleviation.


The 2011-12 Aid Budget at a glance

Total Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2011-12 is estimated at $4.8 billion, this is equivalent to 0.35 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI).

New aid funding in the 2011-12 Budget will implement the Government’s 2010 election commitments for the aid program on:

· improving access to education,

· better maternal health for women and children,

· access to water and sanitation,

· tackling avoidable blindness,

· eliminating violence against women, and

· Australian volunteers.

In 2011-12 around 89 per cent, of Australia’s aid will be delivered through AusAID, the remainder will be delivered through other Australian government agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Around half of Australia’s aid in 2011-12 is expected to be provided to the Asia Pacific region. The ten countries that are expected to receive the most Australian aid in 2011-12 – Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, Vietnam, East Timor, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cambodia – are all in the Asia Pacific.

Assistance in the education, health and economic growth sectors is expected to comprise more than half of Australian aid expenditure in 2011-12.

AusAID’s humanitarian and emergency related expenditure is estimated to increase to $325.0 million in 2011–12. This will support the United Nations, Red Cross, and other international and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to meet humanitarian needs in Asia and the Pacific, Africa and other developing regions.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Ro!
    I share your hearten-ment over Australians' levels of compassion, and the positive aspects of the budget especially the increased AusAID-NGO co-operation program, and also share your disappointments over WASH.
    I was also disappointed about
    - the lack of any indication of plans for Australia to scale-up climate finance and give our fair share for climate adaptation and sustainable development (currently drawn from within the aid budget despite needing to be additional, and not yet even reaching 0.5% of GNI anyway)
    - the lack of any allocation for Disaster risk reduction, despite its obvious and increasing importance, and the need for funds to actually implement AusAID's DDR strategy.
    - Jessie