George Osborne, IF campaign

We did it! UK keeps aid promise

Together with the IF campaign we asked the Government to send a clear message to other countries that the UK will not ignore the world's poorest.

By Glen Tarman

Mar 20 2013

The 2013 UK budget, announced today by Chancellor George Osborne, marks a historic moment in the fight against hunger. In 1970, UN members promised to commit 0.7% of their GDP to international aid. Today the UK has shown its commitment to the world’s poorest people becoming the first G8 nation to make this promise a reality.

Less than a penny in every pound, this small amount of money will make all the difference to millions of people around the world. We know that aid works; since 1990 the number of hungry people has fallen from 1 in 5 to 1 in 8. By working with developing nations to address the underlying causes of hunger, this extra aid commitment will also support economic growth and move us closer to a world without hunger.  

The challenge now is to make sure that the money pledged by the UK Government is invested in most cost-effective way. One of the best investments which governments can make to save lives and to help children to grow and develop to their full potential, is in the package of Direct Nutrition Interventions. These tackle the immediate causes of undernutrition through the promotion of breastfeeding and care practices, the training of health workers and the treatment of undernutrition. Yet, according to ACF’s report ‘Aid for Nutrition: Can Investments to scale up nutrition action be accurately tracked?’, current investments in these interventions are highly inadequate, meeting only 1% of the need. An additional $10 billion a year worldwide is needed to cover the cost of these interventions for all mothers and children in the 36 countries in the world with the greatest numbers of malnourished children. Split between governments in high burden countries and donor governments, this represents a comparatively small investment.

Many developing countries with high rates of undernutrition are already preparing plans and allocating budgets to treat and prevent child undernutrition. Donor nations have committed to support them with these plans, both by providing resources and technical support, and they must honour these commitments.

Without the political backing of the world’s wealthiest nations, achieving these goals will be a long uphill struggle. Today the UK have sent a strong message to other UN nations who promised to make the same commitment on aid 43 years ago, but we must now take action to make sure we set the best possible example. The Government has organised a Hunger Summit ahead of the G8 Summit in the UK this year where we will have the opportunity to take the lead and push for new global financial and policy commitments for nutrition.

The UK’s commitment of spending 0.7% of its GDP on overseas development aid could make today’s budget announcement a pivotal moment in tackling hunger and undernutrition on a global scale. We have set an important precedent for other developed nations.

Now the challenge is to make sure that the promised money is delivered and put to the best possible use.

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Photo credits:  © IF campaign

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