This is guest blog from Nicola Sansom, a campaigner with Oxfam UK in the North-West of England.
My name is Nicola and I am a big fan of aid.
Not something you hear everyday walking down the street. Especially in a world of budget cuts and rising prices, where everyone is looking to make savings.
Aid can mean a lot of different things and don’t get me wrong I know it isn’t perfect. But good aid, which is done together with the local community with a long term vision, can, and is saving lives every day.
Aid in the Press
Most of the press you see focuses on the negatives. Maybe reporting the success stories just doesn’t sell papers. If it did, we might get a much more balanced view of the world.
Recently, I learned that the House of Lords economic affairs committee in the UK has come out against the 0.7% UK aid target. A target we have been working towards for 40 years!
Lord MacGregor, chairman of the Lord’s committee, said members were "unanimous in our view that legislation for a 0.7% target for overall aid spending is inappropriate, and that the government should reconsider the target itself."
How much do you think is appropriate for life saving aid?
For once both conservative and labour were in agreement in opposing this report. They still hope to see the legislation meet the 0.7% of GDP for International Aid in the Queen’s speech in May.Max Lawson, Oxfam Head of Policy, said: “Reneging on our aid promises would deprive millions of the world’s poorest people of life saving medicines, clean water and the chance to go to school. Ministers deserve real credit for keeping our commitments to the poorest during these tough times – it is one of the things that allows Britain to hold our head high on the world stage.”
But scepticism and misunderstandings about Aid don’t stop with the House of Lords – which is why I’m excited that Oxfam has recently launched a new learning platform to help people share their ideas and develop their skills and confidence to champion aid.
What does good Aid really mean?
Ever wanted to find out more about UK Aid? What it’s spent on? Who it affects?
A good example of aid in action is Ghana. Since 2008 healthcare for pregnant women has been free. In the first year this helped 433,000 more women receive lifesaving care while pregnant or giving birth - this was made possible, in part, by UK aid working with the Ghanaian government.
It’s not perfect. There still aren’t enough trained health workers or health centres so access isn’t equal across the country. But surely that’s a reason to keep working with them to ensure improvement, and also to work with other countries to see more of the same.
I recently attended a photographic exhibition about maternal healthcare in Ghana. I met with Dr. Koby Appiah-Sakyi, a Ghanaian Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist based at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester. He sadly lost his own mother due to maternal health complications and this inspired him to go on and work in the field. He said, “If your mother dies, a light goes out that never comes back on. When a mother dies in childbirth it affects a whole family who are left behind”. Yet his voice was positive, one of hope for the future – partially thanks to UK aid.
I know that there are a lot of people out there who care about life saving aid; people who recognise the benefits it can bring and the fact that it is a start that can be built upon.
If you are one of those people why not join the Aid Matters forum?
Aid Matters gives you the opportunity to:
- Discover why good aid is essential for reducing global poverty
- Share your thoughts and questions with like minded people
- Develop your knowledge, skills and confidence to champion aid within your communities and with decision makers.
Hopefully see you on there...