Overseas Aid Escapes Large Budget Funding Cuts

While many Irish community and voluntary groups are still in the process of digesting what yesterdays budget means for their work, one area of the sector that has expressed general satisfaction is those charities involved in the delivery of overseas aid.

The budget has allocated €891m towards Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) for 2009, which represents only a slight reduction of 0.01pc on the 2008 figure (a cut far smaller than had been feared). The sum of €891 amounts to 0.56% of estimated Gross National Product (GNP) for 2009. This means that Ireland remains on track to reach the expressed target of spending 0.7% of GNP on ODA by 2012.

Quoted in today’s Irish Independent, Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, said that Ireland’s commitment to overseas aid is “ever more valuable in the face of the global food and financial crises and ever more real when we ourselves are faced with more difficult economic circumstances”.

Trocaire Director, Justin Kilcullen, broadly welcomed the budget announcement, saying that: “This courageous decision will protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The government is showing clear leadership within the EU and other bodies to ensure that the impact of the global financial and food crises on the poorest people is kept at the top of the international agenda and that the development gains of recent years are not eroded”.

Striking a more cautious tone, Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, warned that: "“If GNP continues to fall, we also need to recognise that our aid budget will continue to fall. If that happens, it would mean less funding for those in ever-greater need. 925 million people face hunger on a daily basis. By the end of this year up to a billion people in the developing world could be battling hunger. These are the figures which must spur us towards our 2010 and 2012 targets and towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

You can read a summary of the Department of Finance overseas aid figures here:
http://www.budget.gov.ie/2009/budgetsummary09.html#_Toc211585104