Alone, charities like ActionAid cannot eradicate poverty. The governments of rich countries need to do their bit. Aid is only one part of ending poverty, but it is an important part.
Aid can help developing countries to provide education, health and economic opportunities where they are needed most. It can also be used to improve government systems to raise taxes that will help poor countries to free themselves from poverty – reducing the need for aid in the long term.
Over the last decade, debt relief and aid have:
- Helped 40 million more African children to attend primary school
- Supported distribution of 88 million mosquito nets that have saved 2.5 million lives since 2002
- Invested in health, so that 10,000 fewer children die every day now than in 1990
- Bought drugs for 45% of pregnant women with HIV that protect their baby from infection
As well as giving more, government aid needs to be better quality - so that a greater proportion reaches the poorest communities. At the moment, too much aid is designed to further the political and economic interests of rich countries, rather than tackling poverty in the most effective - or even cheapest - way. Too much aid is also given badly, being opaque and unpredictable.
Rich countries give a lot of their aid through international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank - which they ultimately control. Strings attached to their aid mean that poor countries have been pushed to change their economic policies and privatise key services. These conditions have often done more harm than good - particularly for the poorest people.
photo : ©Frederic Courbet/Panos Picures/ActionAid. Photo right: ActionAid.