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Irish Government cut backs hit third world poor

Howard Lake | 4 February 2009 | News

Ireland’s overseas development NGOs have expressed shock at the Government’s decision to slash the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget by €95 million. The member organisations of Dóchas, which includes major charities such as Concern, Goal and Oxfam, stated that the latest round of aid cuts will seriously undermine commitments to protect the world’s poor and vulnerable from the worst of the expenditure cuts.
Civil society groups, including NGOs, missionary groups and others in Ireland and developing countries, received a total of €117.6 million in 2007 towards their work on emergencies, education, health, food and agriculture, HIV and AIDS, income generation projects, and other areas.
“Ireland’s aid agencies recognise that unprecedented times call for strong measures, but taking such an enormous portion from the aid budget – more than 10% of the sum budgeted in October – will seriously hit the poorest of the poor,” said Hans Zomer of Dóchas, the umbrella group of overseas aid agencies.
“We acknowledge that the Government faces difficult choices but are dismayed at the size of this cut, the third significant chop to the aid budget in just 7 months. This raises serious question marks about the strength of Government commitment to delivering on its international pledges to fight poverty.”
Ireland has committed to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on overseas aid by 2012 and is supposed to reach a 0.6% benchmark in 2010. With this latest €95 million cut, Ireland’s performance has fallen back to a pre-2006 percentage level at 0.53% spending of national income on ODA.
“Ireland was proud of its leadership in tackling international poverty as aid spending increased, but international standing depends on adherence to principles, commitments and pledges in difficult times as well as in good times. The world’s poor are already being hit by the financial crisis, soaring food prices and climate change, and cannot withstand an aid crisis too,” said Zomer.