Faith group funding for international development doubled by Government

By staff writers
July 6, 2009

The Department for International Development has said that it will double central funding for faith-based groups.

Aid agencies including Cafod and Tearfund welcomed the announcement. However, Cafod also expressed disappointment that the Government was "not providing any leadership" in rethinking the economic development model in light of the climate and financial crises.

The White Paper still had at its heart "the need for the rich to get a lot richer for the poor to get a little less poor", the aid agency said.

The news was announced today by the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander as part of a new poverty action plan to help the world’s poorest people cope with the economic crisis.

It comes after Lambeth Palace hosted a consultation in March between faith communities and the UK Government's Department for International Development (DfID) on the contents of the White Paper.

The White Paper says: “We need to build new and deeper relationships with emerging global powers, civil society and faith groups, and the private sector”.

It continues: "In fragile countries, alternative mechanisms and deeper partnerships with civil society organisations and faith groups are needed to reach the poorest people where an effective state does not exist, for helping to build institutions and for holding those institutions to account."

"The work of governments alone will never be enough" it continues. "For lasting change, states must interact with voluntary groups, charities, faith and diaspora groups, trade unions, co-operatives and others. These organisations can and do often deliver basic services where states cannot or will not. They can challenge governments to ensure that policies benefit ordinary people, including the poorest. And they can help citizens hold their states to account."

A quadrupling of funding to promote fair and ethical trade was also announced.

Launching a new White Paper, entitled: 'Building our Common Future', Douglas Alexander said it represented a fundamental shift in the way the UK delivers development aid, re-focusing resources onto fragile countries and for the first time treating security and justice as a basic service alongside health, education, water and sanitation.

Fifty per cent of new bilateral funding will be committed to fragile countries.

Douglas Alexander said: “We have made great strides over the past decade in tackling global poverty but there is much still to do.

“The economic downturn has had a devastating effect on the developing world, whilst millions live surrounded by conflict and violence. And we must face up to the havoc climate change could cause in the poorest countries.

“Poverty and fragile countries go hand in hand. We cannot make the impact we need to unless we work in the most difficult environments.

“This is not just in their interests but in our own – the economic crisis has highlighted as never before the interdependence of nations, rich and poor, across the world.”

There are currently 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty, of whom one-third live in countries affected by conflict and instability. The economic crisis will force an estimated further 90 million people into poverty and could lead to 400,000 more children dying every year.

Douglas Alexander also set out his desire to see a “fair and equitable” deal from the Copenhagen climate change conference in December. Building our Common Future reaffirms the Government’s commitment to contribute to a $100bn fund to help developing countries tackle climate change which provides funding over and above existing aid commitments.

Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said; "To fight global poverty successfully we must also fight for an ambitious global climate deal at Copenhagen this December.

“The Prime Minister’s recent climate finance proposal puts the developing world at the centre of the global deal – ensuring that those poorest countries are given the help to deal with the consequences of climate change, but also help them grow in a low carbon way.”

Building our Common Future also marks the launch of a new UKAid logo which will be used during humanitarian operations to show UK citizens how development money is being spent.

Aid agency Tearfund said that the doubling of central funding for faith groups was a strong and welcome signal that faith groups and churches are often taking the lead in the development of the world’s poorest countries.

It also welcomed the commitment to "re-focused effort" tackling sustainable development and good governance in fragile states.

The Catholic aid agency Cafod also welcomed the doubling of support to faith based organisations as a means of reaching the poorest people. But it expressed disappointment that the Government was not providing leadership in rethinking the economic development model in light of the climate and financial crises.

"The White Paper still has at its heart the need for the rich to get a lot richer for the poor to get a little less poor" Cafod's director Chris Bain said. "In 1980 the poor received $2.20 for every $100 of growth, by 1991 it was just $0.60c. We’re going back to a business as usual model and that’s not good news for the poorest people or the planet."

Key announcements in Building our Common Future include:

• A renewed commitment to 0.7 per cent of UK Gross National Income (GNI) for international development, meaning a contribution of £9 billion per year by 2013.

• Measures aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates and potentially to save the lives of six million mothers and babies by 2015.

• Plans to support over eight million more children in Africa go to school.

• Doubling of funding to £1 billion for African infrastructure including transport, energy and trade in the region.

• A tripling of funding to support developing countries in recovering stolen assets, and new resources to Interpol, as part of a major effort to stamp out corruption.

• Increased investment in the Central Emergency Response Fund for humanitarian aid at the UN.

• Helping to ensure that security and justice are treated as a basic service – alongside health, education, water and sanitation – in the developing world with funding tripled to £120 million by 2014. This will include training police officers, setting up law courts and protecting women from violence.

• A quadrupling of funding for promotion of fair and ethical trade.

• Renewed commitment to £800 million to support climate adaptation, low carbon growth and protection of forests.

• The piloting of new low carbon innovation centres and a global climate change knowledge network.

You can read the white paper in full here

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