I have witnessed some extraordinary diatribes on the uselessness of aid this week, so thank you Defence Secretary Liam Fox for being the catalyst to a show of sentiment that makes me again wonder how far we’ve moved on since the Enlightenment.
I would therefore like to share with you the words of one of CAFOD’s Sudanese partners on the issue, Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak, who is Chair of Sudanaid: ”The UK Defence Secretary's objections to his government's aid plans prompts us to remind him of the life-changing difference that the UK's aid makes to poor regions like my own, in the south of Sudan.
"Our poverty is often portrayed in your media as overwhelming and insurmountable. Yet the aid that is received, from governments and from those who donate to charities like CAFOD, is what makes a vital contribution in truly transforming lives.
"Years of conflict and neglect here in Southern Sudan mean that for every ten babies born in my Diocese, one will die before their fifth birthday.
"The international aid we receive can be the difference between women and children living and dying.
"A woman that lives means a child has a greater chance of receiving an education; a child that is educated has a greater chance of working and taking care of his or her parents and family; a child that receives such opportunities because of aid has a greater chance of participating in society and ultimately holding his or her government to account.
"Dr Fox should welcome the UK government's efforts to make aid more transparent, as this helps ensure it is spent most effectively to deliver results. Likewise, the Sudanese people, and Africans all over the continent, want their governments to uphold good governance and to administer a fair and just distribution of wealth to all citizens.
"Enshrining the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income in law is an essential means to ensuring that governments keep their promises in the future. Aid is a moral issue, not a political football.
"In the Madi language they have a saying 'mbakolu mbasi' - it translates as 'people need people'. In these difficult times, I pray we can all agree with that simple sentiment.”
© Pascale Palmer is is Senior Media Officer (Policy & Campaigns) for CAFOD. www.cafod.org.uk/